https://arstechnica.co.uk/cars/2017/02/ ... bility-uk/Self-driving cars should be liable for accidents, not the passengers—UK gov’t.Where the manufacturer is found to be liable, the insurer will be able to pursue a subrogated claim against the manufacturer under existing common law and product liability arrangements and recover their costs from the manufacturer. It is possible that the first few cases will go to court though over time we expect insurers and manufacturers will develop processes to handle subrogated claims quickly and easily. And, in any case, we do not consider it to be in a manufacturer’s commercial interest to be unhelpful to insurers in determining liability or paying subrogated claims; ultimately insurers could potentially cease offering insurance products for their vehicles if their route to recovery was consistently blocked
In a somewhat rare display of tech savviness, there are two exemptions listed in the bill. If the vehicle owner makes unauthorised changes to the car's software, or fails to install a software update as mandated by their insurance policy, then the insurer doesn't have to pay.
It isn't clear at this point which capabilities will be enough to classify a vehicle as "self-driving." The draft law asks the department for transport (DfT) to work it out, post haste, and then to determine which vehicles qualify for the new type of insurance. Presumably the DfT will pick one of the SAE "levels" as the threshold. Advanced road cars like the Tesla Model S or a new Mercedes are somewhere between Level 2 and Level 3 on the autonomy scale, but I wouldn't be surprised if the DfT requires Level 4 or perhaps even Level 5 before the vehicle can be held liable.
The level of autonomy is important, because
http://spectrum.ieee.org/cars-that-thin ... rs-wake-upThe Ford Motor Company is skipping Level 3 autonomy—when the driver must be prepared to take the wheel—and going straight to Level 4, when there is no steering wheel at all. The reason? Its own engineers were falling asleep during Level 3 test drives.
Apparently, the Ford engineers kept nodding off even when every attempt was made to keep them on their toes. Bells and alarms did no good, nor did putting in a second engineer to ride shotgun. He nodded off, too. It was this spectacle that convinced Ford honchos to double down on the damn-the-stopgap push to full autonomy, which Google’s Waymo pioneered.
When you drive, you are constantly updating all that is around you and updating your mental model. In level 3 you can go to sleep until the car needs you. When the car needs you, it wakes you up. But at that point you have to build your mental model from scratch, which could take many seconds at a minimum. Crashes happen in very few seconds.