Transport

Your driverless car will come with lifetime checkups, for a price

By Oliver Smith 7 August 2017
Image: Getty/sturti.
Summary

Not just for Christmas.

If a car crashes on the streets today, it would be unusual for a car manufacturer to even be made aware of such an accident.

As soon as a car rolls off the showroom floor, it’s essentially ‘not my problem’ as far as the car maker is concerned… but maybe not for much longer.

In a world of driverless cars, the Government has indicated that it wants carmakers to be responsible for these vehicles for years, or even decades, after they’re sold.

And that could have a huge impact on how we buy and use cars.

Read more: Britain publishes the world’s first driverless car code of practice

Laws of robotics

The Department for Transport today released its eight principles, mainly around security, that connected and autonomous cars should follow.

The main point is that driverless cars must be updated and kept secure “over their lifetime” and carmakers must have “incident responses” in place for malfunctions or vulnerabilities.

So like your laptop receives updates for years after you’ve bought it, so too will your car.

That’s a sea-change from the way cars are sold today.

Drive-through updates

If carmakers become legally responsible for patches and updates over the lifetime of a vehicle, that could either send car prices soaring, or the rise of new subscription models and leases for driverless cars.

Another principle argues that individual board members of driverless car companies must be personally accountable for the security of their vehicles – which would certainly light a fire under car makers to bolster their vehicle’s cybersecurity.

Now, it should also be noted that these principles are currently neither law nor are they enforceable, but their publication implies that the Government will look to make them law.

In the future driverless cars might cost more, but at least you’ll know they won’t just be safe for Christmas, they’ll be safe for life.