Volvo to accept liability for accidents involving its self-driving cars

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Hakan Samuelsson, the CEO of Volvo Cars, has indicated that the Swedish brand will assume legal responsibility if one its autonomous vehicles is involved in a crash. Samuelsson is due to address a seminar about self-driving cars on Thursday night (US time). At the event, organised by Volvo and Swedish embassy, he plans to state that “Volvo will accept full liability whenever one if its cars is in autonomous mode”. The Volvo CEO will also address the possibility of self-driving cars being hacked, adding: “We are constantly evolving defensive software to counter the risks associated with hacking a car. We do not blame Apple, or Microsoft for computer viruses or hackers.” Although many automakers, suppliers and tech companies are currently tackling autonomous vehicle technology, there has been much debate as to who will be held responsible should a self-driving car be involved in an accident. Volvo says that it is “one of the first car makers in the world to make such a promise”. In the last year or so, companies have been much more public in demonstrating the self-driving technologies that they are working on. For example, an automated Audi A7 drove itself most of the way from California to CES 2015 in Las Vegas, and a Delphi-engineered car mostly steered itself from the west to the east coast of the USA. Reports indicate that Apple is actively researching a self-driving of its own, while rival Google has already display its hand with a large fleet of self-driving Lexus RX SUVs and a far more radical autonomous pod car. Google’s vehicles are licensed to drive on public roads in several US states, and have been caught up in a number of accidents thus far, but all have been the fault of human drivers in the other vehicle involved. In his speech, Samuelsson will also address the fragmented regulatory landscape in the US: “The absence of one set of rules means car makers cannot conduct credible tests to develop cars that meet all the different guidelines of all 50 US states. If we are to ensure a smooth transition to autonomous mobility then together we must create the necessary framework that will support this.”