GM Prepared To Take Blame For Future Autonomous Car Crashes

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Why should the driver be at fault for any AI screw up?

Within the next decade or so, autonomous vehicles will become a regular thing. This brings up many questions regarding insurance payouts and, just as importantly, who will be held responsible in the aftermath of a car crash, something self-driving cars are purposely meant to avoid from happening. In case one does, GM told CarAdvice it will take full responsibility if any of its vehicles crash on an autonomous driving trip.

The head of GM's innovation, Warwick Stirling, made clear that a driver hands off full responsibility to the car when opting for fully autonomous mode and, therefore, liability shifts to the automaker itself. For example, GM has just launched its new Super Cruise in the Cadillac CT6, which allows for level 2 automation, but GM adds that the system is nearly level 3. Point being, the technology is moving fast. However, when engaged in Super Cruise mode, "the driver is still in the driver's seat, and they are supposed to be driving and the car is helping them, the driver is still liable," Stirling said. But once level 3 and 4 are here, then it'll be the car's AI that takes over from the driver, and that's where GM becomes liable for anything that happens.

"In level four, there's likely to be no steering wheel and no pedal, you're not driving so you're not liable." Volvo has already made similar statements regarding the subject of self-driving liability, but if one of the biggest automakers in the world has already accepted responsibility for autonomous driving, then expect for this to become the global industry standard. Still, who is directly liable? "(It will be) a combination of the fleet owner, OEM and the service provider [that] will cover the insurance. It's going to be a capital liability, it's going to be a complex space," Stirling said.

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"The issue is going to be how black box is your black box, so you will need to look inside the black box and see what decision it was making (before the crash) and who programmed it? Often if you have a machine learning AI system, it teaches itself to do something, so how do you (assign blame)?" What's clear is that the car insurance we know and pay for right now will work differently in around a decade's time.


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