Mercedes-Benz accepts software liability
- 29 March 2022
- Posted by: Alan Feldberg
- Categories: Featured, News
Mercedes-Benz has said it will accept legal responsibility for collisions caused by its automated lane keeping system, but not when the driver has “failed to comply with their duty of care”.
Chief research strategy officer at Thatcham Research Matthew Avery said: “The issue of liability in automated vehicles is complex and nuanced. It’s too crude to suggest that the carmaker should be liable in all circumstances; there will be times when an accident is and isn’t the carmaker’s responsibility.
“What is apparent in the case of Mercedes, the first to have approval – albeit in Germany – for technology that will allow drivers to disengage and do other things, is that when the automated system is in control, the carmaker will be liable.
“What’s less straightforward is an accident that occurs when the driver has failed ‘to comply with their duty of care’.
He continued: “It will be incumbent on carmakers to ensure drivers of their cars are confident, comfortable and have a strong grasp of their legal responsibilities – which in the UK would be in accordance with the Road Traffic Act. Absolute clarity is required for drivers in terms of their legal obligations behind the wheel and their understanding of how the system operates, especially during a handover from system to driver.
“This is challenged by the fact that a driver can take a long time to come back ‘into the loop’ after extended periods of effectively being chauffeured by the system.
“Insurance claims will require scrutiny, so the provision of data to help insurers understand who was in control of the vehicle at the time of an accident, system or driver, will also be vital. Trust will diminish if confusion reigns and drawn-out legal cases become common, hampering adoption of the technology and the realisation of its many societal benefits.
“Fostering consumer confidence and trust in the first iterations of Automated Driving is paramount. This is where independent consumer rating will have an important role to play in driving safe adoption by making people aware of systems that are not as good as others,” said Avery.