screen representing self-driving carSelf-driving cars are programmed to identify and avoid risk, but in the case of an accident, who is legally responsible? asks UWindsor professor Francesco Biondi.

Legal liability at issue in vehicle automation

With self-driving cars gaining traction in today’s automobile landscape, the issue of legal liability in the case of an accident has become more relevant, says kinesiology professor Francesco Biondi.

“What are the legal responsibilities of the human driver and the car maker that built the self-driving car?” Dr. Biondi writes in an article published Monday in the Conversation, which shares news and views from the academic and research community.

“Unlike using a smartphone app, operating a car has intrinsic and sizeable safety risks, whether the driver is human or software. Human drivers need to consent to take responsibility for the outcomes of the software and hardware.”

He recommends training for drivers to ensure they fully understand the capabilities and limits of self-driving systems, but notes that is not likely to shield automakers from their legal liability should the system malfunction or an accident occur.

“All of this considered, the road forward for self-driving cars is not going to be a smooth ride after all,” Biondi concludes.

Read his entire piece, “Who’s to blame when a self-driving car has an accident?” in the Conversation.

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