In many cases, the state of California has gone above and beyond to make things easier for automakers developing self-driving cars. But that buck stopped with a planned rule that would have approved limited liability for those manufacturers.
The rule would have limited liability for a developer of the car if the manufacturing plant failed to make the car to recommended specs. Ultimately, the California DMV nixed the rule after reading many public comments expressing concern.
Given that there are many questions about liability in driverless car crashes already, experts believe that this decision in California is more of a way to show autonomous vehicle makers that there are boundaries to what the state will do to help them break into the market.
The major theory behind the axed rule is that the developers of these cars might have been less likely to invest the time and energy to create safe cars to begin with if this technicality would have allowed them to avoid liability entirely based on minor issues.
The more claims that could have been blamed on drivers, the easier it would be for these car creators and makers to minimize their own legal expenses. Faster manufacturing of the cars might also have been possible if minor issues could have been blamed on someone else in the accident rather than the maker of the vehicle.
Driverless cars are still not widespread, and it’s not yet clear whether limited liability or full liability will come down on the creators of these cars if an accident happens. One great challenge ahead of autonomous vehicles is the ability to blend into a society of largely human-driven vehicles and a populace not quite ready to accept a car without a driver behind the wheel.