As we motor into the future and the development of autonomous cars becomes increasingly popular, Volvo has become the first carmaker to confirm that it will accept full responsibility for any accidents caused by its driverless cars.
The Swedish manufacturer’s announcement is designed to speed up regulations, which currently fail to fully recognise how the technology used in autonomous vehicles – and its manufactures – should be liable for incidents.
As self-driving cars essentially take full control away from the driver, Volvo believes the industry should recognise the importance of taking responsibility for potential technological failures and design flaws. Volvo has described current US and European law regarding self-driving cars and liability as "a patchwork of rules and regulations".
Speaking in Washington DC, Volvo Cars president Hakan Samuelsson praised the US for currently being "the most progressive country in the world in autonomous driving."
However, according to the International Business Times, he added that the country "risks losing its leading position" because of a lack of federal guidelines for the "testing and certification" of self-driving vehicles. This is because the wide variety of governing rules, which vary by state, make it increasingly difficult for carmakers to develop an autonomous car that can operate, legally, nationwide.
While many believe that autonomous cars will never make a mistake, Samuelsson said that computer-controlled cars “will never be perfect” and that “one day there will be an accident”. With this in mind, Samuelsson suggested that Volvo will take full responsibility for any incidents caused by one of its autonomous cars.
Speaking to the BBC, Samuelsson said: "Volvo wants to remove the uncertainty of who would be responsible in the event of a crash. At the moment it could be the manufacturer of the technology, the driver, a maker of a component in a car."
Since car hacking – much like phone or computer hacking – has been a hot topic in 2015, Samuelsson is also keen to highlight the importance of designing defense softwares against hackers, which he believes to be a criminal offence.
He said: "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."