Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Lack of legislation chief barrier to autonomous vehicle adoption: ABI

Iain Morris
October 1, 2014

Legislation and liability issues are expected to remain the main obstacles to the rollout of autonomous vehicle technology over the next decade, according to a new study from ABI Research.

Current legislation in this area is highly fragmented, notes the market-research company, with rulemaking often developed on a local level due to the lack of national or international guidance – for instance, from the NHTSA in the US or the European Union.

“The recently amended UN convention on road traffic is a notable exception, though the condition the driver should at all times be able to override or switch off autonomous features precludes fully driverless vehicles,” said VP and practice director Dominique Bonte.

In the US market, California appears to be leading the way in this field, having already approved legislation for testing as well as rules for commercially operating autonomous vehicles on public roads.

Meanwhile, there have been some isolated initiatives in other markets, such as Sweden and Japan – largely related to projects from national car brands such as Volvo and Nissan.

Governments in countries like the UK and Singapore are also promoting autonomous driving as a key future intelligent transportation technology.

Unfortunately, the lack of legislation and uncertainty surrounding liability is preventing many car OEMs from aggressively pushing autonomous technology.

Many OEMs are already involved in recall-related liability cases because they fear autonomous driving will further shift liability from the driver to the carmaker.

ABI says the role of governments will be critical in terms of proposing and regulating liability-limiting mechanisms, including taking on some of the liability themselves, especially where cooperative V2X systems are involved, to reduce the legal exposure of the industry – which could stifle innovation.

ABI describes the emergence of autonomous vehicle technology as one example of the more general automation trend in the IoT area, with sectors like energy, transportation and healthcare all facing legislation and liability questions.
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