Analysis: AVs Creating Major Legal Concerns for OEMs

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April 16, 2018—Deadly accidents involving Uber and Tesla vehicles operating under automated systems have created increasing problems for auto industry lawyers, as Reuters recently examined.

It’s critical that companies fully explain the limitations of automated driving systems, attorneys for the U.S. units of OEMs like Toyota, Hyundai, and Volkswagen said at a recent legal conference in Phoenix. That American Bar Association conference, incidentally, took place near the scene of a recent fatal accident involving an Uber test vehicle.

Late last week, Tesla came under fire for its response to a deadly crash in California involving a Tesla operating on Autopilot, the name the OEM uses for an enhanced cruise control system.  

David Cades, of engineering firm Exponent, said terminology is key in descriptions of automated driving features, because people might misunderstand the technology.

Industry lawyers said automakers increasingly indemnify smaller technology companies working on self-driving features. However, Tammy Fanning, deputy general counsel for parts maker Continental, told the conference in Phoenix the general automotive liability chain won’t change.

“From a product liability perspective, it will all stay the same: suppliers will be paying for everything in the end, every recall, all replacements.”

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