But even with cutting-edge technology in control, accidents will happen.
The blame game, however, will be more complicated.
Is the human driver at fault? The car’s manufacturer? What about the software programmer who created the code that allowed the car to drive itself? Or the engineer whose highway design was flawed?
“It is so unsettled and uncertain,” said
Knowing who is at fault is essential in order for someone to foot the bill for repairs or injuries incurred in an accident. It is also a moral issue, Enders said.
“We should hold those that cause injury accountable for their actions,” Enders said.
But if liability is uncertain or disputed, it can lead to costly and drawn-out litigation.
Numerous entities in the public and private sectors are working to answer the liability questions for autonomous vehicles. Some insurers already cover semi-autonomous vehicles that rely on technologies like automatic braking. And state lawmakers and regulators are beginning to wrestle with the issues.
At a forum held
And part of the impact, they hope, is a significant decline in motor-vehicle deaths.
Traffic-related fatalities hit 40,100 last year nationwide, the second year in a row above the 40,000 mark, according to the
But while autonomous vehicles will improve safety, they may still end up in accidents, said state Rep.
“What happens if you destroy a million dollars’ worth of equipment hitting an autonomous vehicle in your car? Who pays for that? The insurance limits wouldn’t cover that,” Rothman said.
Numerous parties could be liable for accidents involving autonomous vehicles, said
Autonomous vehicles: Highway designers brace for advent of self-driving cars Automated vehicles alter rules of the road: Guest view Guidelines set for testing driverless vehicles in Pa.
“Will it be the manufacturers? A person who will have no control? Will it be the local government which may not have enough resources to handle a court case?” Ritchie said.
The same questions are cropping up among automobile insurance professionals, said Enders.
Liability could fall to the manufacturer or the dealership that sold the driverless car, or there could be an attempt to transfer the liability to the driver, Enders explained.
He thinks it will be something of a mix.
The case of
Some insurers are uncomfortable with the autonomous features in
But others will. Enders said his agency has insured Teslas on standardized policies through carriers such as
“The companies are out there, but a lot of times the issue with underwriting is the cost. That’s why many companies deny coverage,” Enders said.
On the policies that are available, owners retain lability in the primary position, meaning that if a driver is in control of a semi-autonomous vehicle when it hits another car, the accident will be covered by the driver’s insurance policy, Enders explained.
But if a semi-autonomous car is on autopilot, the accident will not be covered, Enders said.
Courts, Enders explained, have yet to decide whether the manufacturer, such as
In some cases, manufacturers already are assuming liability.
Such is the case with a utility truck made in
The trucks, which can be used for line painting, are manufactured by
Kratos, however, does, said
Factor said Kratos’ decades-long track record with its insurance provider made the company comfortable enough to provide the coverage.
The insurance was a crucial factor in the
“Once we established that there was a product insurance, then we were okay with it,” Weldon said, noting that
The insurance would cover the costs of an accident that took place in autonomous mode, Factor said. If an accident were to occur while the truck is in manual mode, Kratos would not be liable. Instead,
He added that the department is self-insured, meaning it maintains a fund to cover possible losses rather than purchasing an insurance policy.
Determining liability, Factor said, isn’t difficult.
“When the vehicle is operating unmanned, it’s collecting data like GPS coordinates. We know when it’s operating,” Factor said. He added that Kratos regularly examines the data it collects to see how accurately its vehicles are operating.
Lawmakers also are stepping into the picture.
Nearly 30 U.S. states have enacted legislation related to self-driving cars, according to the
The governor of
A state bill, S.B. 427, would regulate the testing of autonomous vehicles in the commonwealth.
Another piece of legislation, S.B. 1096, concerns “highly automated” work zone vehicles and platooning.
If passed, the bill will amend the vehicle code and allow for autonomous vehicles in work zones, such as the Autonomous TruckMounted Attenuator truck, to hit
“If you care about safety then you want to have this technology in trucks because there are way too many accidents involving truck drivers,” Rothman, who is a sponsor of the bill, said. “And a lot of it has to do with distractions and human behavior.”View the full article from the