Liability conundrum posed by driverless cars

by Adrian Waters

Liability conundrum posed by driverless cars

by Adrian Waters - 29/01/2013

As we move through the 21st Century and technology develops, the prospect of driverless cars raises all sorts of liability insurance questions.

At the World Economic Forum in Davos last week driverless cars were just one of the items on the agenda.

If you're rolling your eyes at pie in the sky science fiction, then think again. Europe has been researching self-driving cars for over 10 years through the Intelligent CoOperative Systems program. The aim is to make driving less of a chore while helping the environment - driverless cars are more likely to be electric than use internal combustion engines.

Liability insurance, however, raises the inevitable question: although the aim of driverless cars is to make driving safer, if a car has no driver, who is responsible for accidents?

Google has already been using driverless cars for its street-level photos, logging more than 480,000km without any accidents. Still, if consumers start to adopt driverless cars on a mass scale the chances of mishaps will increase. It's expected that self-driving cars will become available within 5 years, according to the Huffington Post.

Liability insurance laws will have to take into account financial responsibilities as this technology is unveiled across the world. Car companies could open themselves up to being sued for technology failures, as could retailers supplying such vehicles.

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