The evolution and introduction of advanced artificial intelligence in automated vehicles is a much sought-after objective for the UK Government. However, the lack of a legal framework that can sufficiently address issues associated with the use of this technology continues to be a cause of concern.
Florida saw the first recorded fatal accident in 2018 when the self-driving car attempted to avoid a collision by driving full speed under the middle of a lorry, before crashing into a post and killing the “driver”, who was allegedly watching a Harry Potter movie at the time.
The car manufacturer Tesla avoided liability for this incident and responsibility for the accident was placed primarily on the driver, who “should have noted the hazard and retaken control”.
This leads to concerns about liability for both users and insurers of automated vehicles. Currently, the provisions of the Road Traffic Act 1988 state the “user” of a car is generally liable for the car’s actions. The Vehicle Technology and Aviation Bill passed its second reading in the House of Commons in March 2017. The Bill sets out proposals as to how to address issues of liability when automated vehicles are involved in accidents.
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