Should insurers dictate autonomous driving behavior?

Who is responsible when an autonomous car crashes?

That’s a difficult question to answer. Is it the owner? The company who built the car or its autonomous hardware? The people who programmed the car to make decisions? It’s a complex issue, and one that gives legislators — and the general public — pause.

The MIT Technology Review presents a potential solution in its article titled, “One way to get self-driving cars on the road faster: let insurers control them.”

The article points to an autonomous vehicle trial by Oxbotica, an Oxford University spinoff. Oxbotica has partnered with insurer XL Catlin to gather and share data gathered by three autonomous Ford Fusions operating around Oxford. Oxford professor and Oxbotica cofounder Paul Newman says that providing the insurer with the data collected to adjust the cars’ behavior. “The autonomy system has insurance built into it that allows it to control risk over a fleet,” said Newman. With insurers — who are, by profession, experts at assessing risk — in charge, lawmakers might be more confident in allowing testing on public roads.

It’s an interesting idea, but not a bulletproof one. Read more from MIT Technology Review, and let us know what you think in the comments section below.

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