Consumer Watchdog argues GM's attempted 'power grab' could have shielded the automaker from liability for autonomous system failures if the owner had not cleaned sensors and kept tires inflated to specified pressure.
California's Department of Motor Vehicles has shot down a General Motors proposal that would have shielded automakers from legal liability for autonomous system failures.
GM apparently pushed for automakers to have blanket protection if autonomous vehicles involved in crashes had been modified or not maintained the vehicle to the manufacturer's specifications.
Consumer Watchdog wrote a letter to the DMV arguing that GM was attempting a "power grab" and the proposed law would have allowed automakers to easily dodge responsibility for technology failures by finding unrelated evidence such as a slightly overinflated tire.
"Consider a case where the robot car software was obviously to blame and mud was not wiped from a sensor," the group said. "The company could still claim the robot car hadn't been properly maintained and deny liability even though the alleged 'maintenance failure' had nothing to do with the crash."
The DMV decided to ditch the proposal after receiving many comments pointing out that "existing law provides well-established principles that assist in determining fault and apportioning liability for automobile crashes."