Toyota boss says autonomous cars will accept crash liability

Manufacturers will have to accept liability in the event of an autonomous accident, according to bosses at Toyota’s research institute

Toyota logo

Manufacturers of autonomous cars will have to accept liability in the event of an accident involving one of their vehicles – according to the specialist in charge of Toyota’s project to develop its own self-driving technology.

Dr Gill Pratt, CEO of Toyota Research Institute, says that manufacturers “won’t have a choice” but to accept that without a human driver to blame for an accident, the law is likely to turn to the companies who make the vehicles instead.

Driverless cars: everything you need to know

“As we move towards autonomous cars, the crash rate will be lower than now but it will not be zero,” Pratt told Auto Express. “When that does happen, there will really only be one thing left to take responsibility – the company that made the product. 

“The reality is that no one has a choice,” Pratt said. “The law dictates what we will have to do. Different parts of the world have different laws, and we follow the law.”

Pratt, whose division has developed a running Toyota prototype with integrated Lidar sensors that’s capable of Level 4 Autonomy, where the driver can take their hands completely off the wheel – admitted that the predicted roll-out of autonomous cars has slipped slightly over the past 18 months.

“The industry as a whole has adjusted the expectations of the timelines for when things are going to roll out,” he said. “I think that it’s all because of the realisation that there are technical difficulties in predicting what human beings do. Any car in a mixed environment has to do really good job of predicting what other drivers will do, what pedestrians and cyclists will do. It doesn’t understand unless it’s seen millions of training scenarios and videos.

“The obstacles currently in the way are technical - predicting what things around you are going to do – social, in terms of liability and also brand risk, and economic; where within the price of the car are we going to be able to pay for this stuff?

“On the liability front, in some ways autonomous cars could be like a vaccine. Vaccines save millions of lives almost all of the time, but once in a while, they can cause an adverse reaction and a person who was otherwise healthy before can get sick and even die. 

Peugeot says level 4 autonomous cars would mean £13,000 price hike

“With vehicle autonomy, we have the potential to save a lot of lives, but some of the time we’re going to have lives lost. So it’s a question for society to decide. Is it okay to accept some technology will save lot of lives but also cost some lives?”

What do you think of autonomous cars? Let us know in the comments below...

Recommended

Toyota gives industry a lift with free THUMS crash test software
Toyota

Toyota gives industry a lift with free THUMS crash test software

Japanese manufacturer wants any company to be able to benefit from its human crash modelling software in the interests of safety
16 Jun 2020
New Toyota GR Super Sport makes public debut at Le Mans
Toyota

New Toyota GR Super Sport makes public debut at Le Mans

The Toyota GR Super Sport has made its first public appearance – and it was followed by the brand’s victory at the 2020 Le Mans 24 Hours race
21 Sep 2020
Toyota latest car maker to suspend production over coronavirus
Toyota logo
Toyota

Toyota latest car maker to suspend production over coronavirus

In a bid to help contain coronavirus, Toyota has closed factories across Europe
27 Mar 2020

Most Popular

New 2020 Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport turns up the wick to 296bhp
Volkswagen Golf GTI Hatchback

New 2020 Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport turns up the wick to 296bhp

The new Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport adds more power and gets an aero overhaul
13 Oct 2020
New Land Rover Discovery Sport PHEV 2020 review
Land Rover Discovery Sport

New Land Rover Discovery Sport PHEV 2020 review

The Land Rover Discovery Sport P300e plug-in hybrid promises 135mpg and an all-electric range of 38 miles, but does it deliver?
21 Oct 2020
Car exhaust smoke explained
British Steam Car
Tips & advice

Car exhaust smoke explained

Is your car suffering from a smoky exhaust? Our troubleshooting guide tells you the causes and what you need to do to fix it
22 Oct 2020