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Fleet Technology Congress: Semi-autonomous cars face insurance 'iffy patch'

Date: 28 July 2016   |   Author: Tristan Young

The switch from conventional to autonomous cars could cause a headache for insurers and legislators because it will be unclear who will be responsible in the event of an accident, according to Andrew Walker (pictured), repair sector research manager at research centre Thatcham.

Walker said there was a problematical area about whose responsibility it is in an accident when there's partial automation.

In a conventional car the driver is the responsible party and in a fully autonomous car it's the product's liability. Currently, the stage of partial automation is a grey area.

Referring to the recent Tesla automated driving accident where the driver was killed, Walker said: "We've found that the more you automate a car, the more switched off and out of the loop the driver gets.

So if you've got to get back into the loop, grab hold of the steering wheel and make an avoidance manoeuvre, because the systems haven't seen it, the slower it is for the driver to react to control the vehicle. So this is a problematical area where we transition from partial to full automation - there's an iffy patch between them."