Advancements in the development of fully autonomous cars are accelerating at a rapid pace, but while the technology may be ready in the not too distant future it’s uncertain whether the regulatory and legal framework will have enough time to catch up.

Based on independent statistics, over 90 percent of all fatal accidents are believed to be caused by human error, typically due to inattention, so there is a clear argument for the introduction of self-driving cars. But what happens when the car itself makes a mistake? Or in an even worse situation is hacked?

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The good news is that the developers of the technology are coming out and promising to accept responsibility and liability for autonomous cars, even before any real debate on the issue has even flared up.

At the recent A Future with Self-Driving Cars—Is it Safe? seminar in Washington, D.C., Volvo CEO Håkan Samuelsson announced that Volvo will accept full liability whenever one if its cars is in autonomous mode. The pledge is particularly important as Volvo in 2017 will be loaning 100 XC90 SUVs designed to drive in full autonomous mode in certain sections of the Swedish city of Gothenburg to local families on a trial basis.

Two additional leaders in the development of autonomous cars, Mercedes-Benz and Google, in an interview with 60 Minutes have also said they’ll accept responsibility and liability for autonomous cars should an accident occur due to the technology.


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