Cyber security, liability concerns at the forefront of autonomous vehicles: RIMS Canada Conference

Passengers could be at the mercy of hackers who take control of vehicles

As autonomous vehicles start cropping up on roadways, they’re posing a number of new risks.

“The most obvious concern about autonomous vehicles—I think it’s probably shared universally—is the cyber security risk,” said George R. Wray, a partner at the law firm Borden Ladner Gervais LLP.

Related: Self-driving cars mean shift in product liability thinking: RIMS Canada Conference

Speaking to a crowd of risk managers at the RIMS Canada Conference, Wray pointed out that the potential for hackers to access a vehicle could lead to disastrous consequences.

“The absolute worst possible scenario is someone hacks in, takes charge of your vehicle while you’re in it and…takes you somewhere that you don’t want to go—for example, off a cliff,” Wray said.

Jim Kidd, a project manager with the City of Toronto’s Insurance and Risk Management Section, added that assessing liability will pose challenges when autonomous vehicles become more widespread.

“How liability is assessed now is well established, but autonomous technology will change that,” Kidd said. “There are so many parties to attribute liability to: technology failure, product liability. Was it the software? Was it the hardware? Did the technology fail to prevent a collision?”

Kidd also noted that the data gathered by autonomous vehicles could eventually make it easier to assess liability.

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