Volvo urges US to establish nationwide Federal guidelines for autonomous driving
The US risks losing its leading global position in the development of self-driving cars if it allows a patchwork of varying state laws and regulations to develop, according to Håkan Samuelsson, president and chief executive of Volvo Cars.
In a speech delivered at a high level seminar on self-driving cars organized by Volvo Cars and the Embassy of Sweden in Washington DC, Mr Samuelsson said the US is currently the most progressive country in the world in autonomous driving (AD), but add this position could be eroded if a national framework for regulation and testing is not developed.
“The US risks losing its leading position due to the lack of Federal guidelines for the testing and certification of autonomous vehicles,” said Mr Samuelsson. “Europe has suffered to some extent by having a patchwork of rules and regulations. It would be a shame if the US took a similar path to Europe in this crucial area.”
Mr Samuelsson said the absence of national Federal oversight in the US runs the risk of slowing down the development and introduction of autonomous driving technologies by making it extremely 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 US states,” he said. “If we are to ensure a smooth transition to autonomous mobility then together we must create the necessary framework that will support this.”
Mr Samuelsson addressed a select audience at a seminar entitled “A Future with Self Driving Cars – Is it Safe?” at the House of Sweden in Washington DC, and he emphasized that the introduction of self-driving cars on the world’s roads will happen more quickly than many lawmakers anticipated.
He urged 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.
Mr Samuelsson clearly stated Volvo’s position on both of these contentious issues. He said Volvo will 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. He added that Volvo regards the hacking of a car as a criminal offence.
“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 said.