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Volvo Cars calls for US national framework for regulation and testing of autonomous driving

In a speech to be delivered Thursday at a seminar on self-driving cars organized by Volvo Cars and the Embassy of Sweden in Washington DC, Håkan Samuelsson, president and chief executive of Volvo Cars, will urge the US to adopt a national framework for regulation and testing of autonomous driving (AD).

Although the US is currently the most progressive country in the world in AD, this position could be eroded if such national framework is not developed, Samuelsson will suggest.

The US risks losing its leading position due to the lack of Federal guidelines for the testing and certification of autonomous vehicles. Europe has suffered to some extent by having a patchwork of rules and regulations. It would be a shame if the US took a similar path to Europe in this crucial area.

The absence of one set of rules means car makers cannot conduct credible tests to develop cars that meet all the different guidelines of all 50 US states. If we are to ensure a smooth transition to autonomous mobility then together we must create the necessary framework that will support this.

—Håkan Samuelsson

Samuelsson suggests that the introduction of self-driving cars on the world’s roads will happen more quickly than many lawmakers anticipated. In his talk, he will urge regulators to work closely with car makers to solve controversial outstanding issues such as questions over legal liability in the event that a self-driving car is involved in a crash or hacked by a criminal third party.

Volvo will accept full liability whenever one if its cars is in autonomous mode, making it one of the first car makers in the world to make such a promise. Further, Volvo regards the hacking of a car as a criminal offense.

We are constantly evolving defensive software to counter the risks associated with hacking a car. We do not blame Apple, or Microsoft for computer viruses or hackers.

—Håkan Samuelsson


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I think Volvo is wrong. At this early stage of the autonomous car industry it is important to keep all doors open so to speak by letting each state in the US develop their own rules. That will allow the interested parties (IT giants or auto makers) to test and develop their cars and subsequently launch them commercially in the states with the legislation that suites them best. Later on when several states have experience with regulating both partially and fully self-driving cars and taxis this legislation can be harmonised in order to create one big homogeneous market. This is a much better way IMO. Otherwise we risk special interest promoted by lobbyists working for the old automakers rigging the legislation (a la VW dieselgate) at the National level and prevent it from allowing fully self-driving taxis because they are not ready themselves with this technology and fear to be run over by newcomers that are ready and has the capital to go very big very fast.


Fifty (50) sets of rules could delay national autonomous e-vehicles for 100+ years. A basic national framework is essential to set major national guide posts.

Eventually, an international framework will be essential to do the same. EU may be the starting point?

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