One aspect that has been barrier as a hindrance for the adoption of self-driving cars has been liability. For example:
Uncertainty over liability for a driverless car crash is seen as one of the biggest barriers to adoption.
Wikipedia describes liability as the legal bound obligation to pay debts, such as damages due to causing an accident.
That means that either:
- The owner/passenger is liable. S/he pays the insurance premium and if s/he is at fault at an accident, the insurance company pays the damages.
- The manufacturer is liable. The manufacturer may either get insurance, or self-insure. In either case, the manufacturer has insurance costs. These insurance costs are probably passed onto the owner/passenger.
In both cases, costs for the owner/passenger are the same. If the owner/passenger is liable, s/he will pay less for the car but more for insurance. If the manufacturer is liable, the owner/passenger will pay more for the car but less for insurance. In the end, it's the same cost for the owner/passenger.
If the cost are the same for the owner/passenger either way, then why is the question of liability a legal barrier for the adoption of driverless cars? Why would the aspect of liability require any legal changes?