SELF-DRIVING CAR MANUFACTURERS will be held responsible for accidents rather than the humans 'driving' them, according to the UK government.
The government has given more insight into how it thinks driverless car insurance policies could work, revealing that it will hold the vehicle, and by extension the manufacturer, liable for accidents.
"In the event of a serious collision when in driverless mode, it would be the vehicle at fault instead of the human driver," said roads minister Andrew Jones on Wednesday.
Jones’s speech was delivered in Milton Keynes, a test bed for driverless cars in the UK, and set out the reiterated the government's plans to get self-driving vehicles on UK roads within four years.
"The government believes that within four years it will be possible to buy cars that, under supervision, park on their own and pilot themselves on motorways. Eventually, there will be virtually nothing left for the motorist to do," Jones said.
This will require major changes to car insurance as traditional data used to create policies and premiums will be irrelevant.
"Much of the data on which insurance is priced and sold will steadily become obsolete [and] vast quantities of new kinds of data will become available, assessing not individual driver risk but vehicle behaviour and other factors," Jones said.
He explained that insurance policies will expand to include liability for manufacturers if it can be proved that the car was at fault, not the driver.
"Compulsory motor insurance will be retained, but it will be extended to cover product liability so that when a motorist has handed control to their vehicle, they can be reassured that their insurance will be there if anything goes wrong," he said.
"Where the vehicle is at fault the insurer will be able to seek reimbursement from the manufacturer."
It was revealed earlier this month that Google is hiring drivers to test its, er, driverless vehicles.
"Test drivers play an important role in developing our self-driving technology," said Brian Torcellini, head of operations for Google's self-driving car testing programme.
"They give our engineers feedback about how our cars are driving and interacting with others on the road, and can take control of the vehicle if needed." µ
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