In a recent London School of Economics study that polled European road users on their attitudes towards autonomous vehicles - revealed drivers would be tempted to drive aggressively around or "bully" autonomous vehicles. There would be many ways to torment the passengers and the autonomous vehicle; suddenly braking in front of it or putting themselves in their way to cut them off, or drive in an aggressive and dangerous manner to see how the autonomous vehicle reacts. This is a very real problem that auto makers and insurance companies are going to have to deal with. The fear of drivers challenging autonomous vehicles, to see if they will yield towards their torment or aggressive tactics, has Swedish automotive giant Volvo taking preemptive measures.
While some self-driving projects announce their vehicles on the streets are autonomous with bright stickers and eye-catching brands to identify themselves, Volvo has decided to go the alternate route. The first 100 self driving 4x4s to enter London's roadways in 2018 will have no distinction between the autonomous model and the regular requires a driver model. From the outside they will just appear as any regular Volvo 4x4. This method will prevent their self-driving vehicles from being identified from far away and then targeted by bullies. While this may be an immediate but short term fix from being targeted by drivers on the road, should there be an accident, who would be at fault?
The UK government is taking steps to modernize road laws, opening consultation on whether it's fair to blame drivers for improper use of autonomous driving features and ensuring car makers and their partners in autonomous driving, are liable in the scenario should the technology fail to operate in a lawful manner. Or should the person driving causing an accident with the autonomous vehicle should be liable. These are all very real questions and laws and regulations will need to be in place before self-driving cars become a reality for everyone.