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Self-driving cars: liabilities shift to automakers when algos are driving
Lex專欄:製造商將為自動駕駛事故承擔大部分責任

Autonomous vehicle makers should expect to be punished for lives that are lost
自動駕駛汽車製造商都在大肆宣傳這項技術在改善道路安全方面的潛力,但它們應該料到將因車禍中逝去生命而受到懲罰。
Businesses developing self-driving cars talk up the technology』s potential to improve road safety. They had better be right — for financial as well as humane reasons. They will bear most of the liability for crashes. Automotive groups have a long history of product recalls and compensation payouts for the failures of far simpler systems.
開發自動駕駛汽車的企業都在大肆宣傳這項技術在改善道路安全方面的潛力。從經濟和人道的角度來看,他們最好是正確的。他們將承擔車禍的大部分責任。汽車集團在產品召回和為簡單得多的系統故障支付賠償方面有著悠久的歷史。
Alphabet』s Waymo operates robotaxis in Arizona, Tesla works feverishly on 「self-driving」 modes and General Motors plans to deliver autonomous vehicles by mid-decade. The push has prompted the UK』s Law Commission to propose that users of self-driving cars should have immunity from a wide range of motoring offences, including dangerous driving.
Alphabet的Waymo在亞利桑那州營運機器人出租車,特斯拉(Tesla)正積極研發「自動駕駛」模式,通用汽車(General Motors)計劃在十年中期推出自動駕駛汽車。這一舉措促使英國法律委員會(Law Commission)提議,自動駕駛汽車的用戶應享有一系列駕駛違法行為的豁免權,包括危險駕駛。
Car manufacturers have been accountable for defective vehicles since a row in the US over Ford Pinto fuel tank fires in the 1970s. The industry spent billions of dollars last decade recalling vehicles affected by the exploding airbags made by Japan』s Takata.
自上世紀70年代美國福特平托(Ford Pinto)油箱起火以來,汽車製造商一直要為有缺陷的汽車負責。該行業在過去10年里花費了數十億美元召回受日本高田公司(Takata)安全氣囊爆炸影響的汽車。
Liabilities for self-driving cars are less clear-cut. Owners will sometimes have to take the wheel in an emergency or in heavy rain. German lawmakers consider they should then be legally responsible. The Law Commission believes such carve-outs are unworkable.
無人駕駛汽車的責任則不那麼明確。車主有時不得不在緊急情況或大雨中駕駛。德國議員認為他們應該承擔法律責任。法律委員會認為這樣的分割是行不通的。
Under the proposals, vehicle manufacturers or software developers will need sufficient funds to organise recalls and pay fines. That might stifle the emergence of innovative start-ups.
根據這些提案,汽車製造商或軟體開發商將需要足夠的資金來組織召回和支付罰款。這可能會扼殺創新型初創企業的成長。
Perhaps they could buy insurance? But self-driving cars would be a greater headache for Lloyd』s of London than other speciality lines. The risks in screeds of computer code are hard to assess. There are also cyber security issues. The International Underwriting Association of London raises the nightmare possibility of numerous accidents occurring simultaneously. That could pose a risk to insurers』 solvency, the IUA says.
也許他們可以買保險?但對於倫敦勞合社(Lloyd 's of London)來說,自動駕駛汽車將比其他專業汽車更讓人頭疼。冗長的計算機代碼的風險很難評估。還有網路安全問題。倫敦國際承保協會(International Underwriting Association of London)提出了同時發生數起事故的可怕可能性。IUA說,這可能會給保險公司的償付能力帶來風險。
None of this will deter developers. China』s Geely plans to have autonomous vehicles by 2024. Volkswagen expects self-driving cars to transform the industry. It recently earmarked €89bn for electric vehicle and software development.
這些都不會阻止開發企業。中國吉利計劃在2024年前推出自動駕駛汽車。大眾預計自動駕駛汽車將改變整個行業。它最近專門撥出890億歐元用於電動汽車和軟體開發。
Carmakers will end up provisioning for claims raised by ambulance-chasing lawyers too. Asymmetries in blame culture make them vulnerable. Human errors produce 90 per cent of road traffic crashes. Only self-driving accidents attract world media coverage. As Tesla boss Elon Musk recently acknowledged, autonomous vehicle makers may not be rewarded for the lives they save. They should, though, expect to be punished for those that are lost.
汽車製造商也將最終為追隨救護車的律師提出的索賠做好準備。歸責文化中的不對稱讓他們變得脆弱。90%的道路交通事故是人為失誤造成的。只有自動駕駛事故才會吸引世界媒體的報導。正如特斯拉老闆埃隆•馬斯克(Elon Musk)最近承認的那樣,自動駕駛汽車製造商拯救的生命可能不會得到回報。不過,他們應該料到將為逝去的生命受到懲罰。
The Lex team is interested in hearing more from readers. Please tell us what you think of self-driving cars in the comments section below.
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