Lack of regulation slowing autonomous vehicle development

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Updated Oct 9, 2015

Autonomous vehicles seems to be the next big innovation on the horizon, but’s Volvo’s car boss says unorganized state laws and regulations threaten the development of self-driving cars.

Håkan Samuelsson, president and chief executive of Volvo Cars, says the U.S. is currently the most progressive country in the world in autonomous driving (AD), but adds this position could be eroded if a national framework for regulation and testing is not developed.

“The U.S. risks losing its leading position due to the lack of Federal guidelines for the testing and certification of autonomous vehicles,” he says. “Europe has suffered to some extent by having a patchwork of rules and regulations. It would be a shame if the U.S. took a similar path to Europe in this crucial area.”

The absence of national Federal oversight in the U.S., Samuelsson says, runs the risk of slowing down the development and introduction of autonomous driving technologies by making it more difficult for car makers to test, develop and sell AD cars.

“The absence of one set of rules means car makers cannot conduct credible tests to develop cars that meet all the different guidelines of all 50 U.S. states,” he says. “If we are to ensure a smooth transition to autonomous mobility then together we must create the necessary framework that will support this.”

Samuelsson urges regulators to work closely with car makers to solve controversial outstanding issues such as questions over legal liability in the event that a self-driving car is involved in a crash or hacked by a criminal third party.

Samuelsson says Volvo is prepared to accept full liability whenever one if its cars is in autonomous mode, making it one of the first car makers in the world to make such a promise, adding Volvo regards the hacking of a car as a criminal offense.

“We are constantly evolving defensive software to counter the risks associated with hacking a car. We do not blame Apple, or Microsoft for computer viruses or hackers,” he says.