The massive burden of legal and regulatory liability could soon be shifted towards the manufacturers of autonomous vehicles away from customers because of hackers and defective software, according to industry experts.
That means the automotive regulators and insurers would need to develop entirely new patterns that could introduce a whole new business prospect. Autonomous cars have been emphasized as potential traffic incident mitigation experts because their sensors, software and processing power would enable faster and more reliable collision prevention skills. But the increased level of automation also sees the need for higher levels of cybersecurity and top-end software, add the experts.
“Although accident rates will theoretically fall, new risks will come with autonomous vehicles,” comments Domenico Savarese, Group head of Proposition Development and Telematics at Zurich Insurance. “What should be done in the case of a faulty software algorithm? Should manufacturers be required to monitor vehicles post-sale in the case of a malfunction or a hacker attack?”
The established pattern of assigning the liability and responsibility towards the owner for the car’s reactions might still apply, the focus could also shift towards manufacturers. And the level of semi-autonomous driving already seen on today’s vehicles is already raising questions – for instance how can be guilt assigned if we have a distracted driving accident while the vehicle was using its autopilot feature? The experts say that even if automakers will see increased liability it’s unlikely the progress towards autonomous functions would be stopped, as consumers demand more and more driverless features.