Posted: Fri Jan 12, 2018 10:41 am
Set aside for a moment the local Laws (and their classifications of vehicles) the base points are IMHO:
1) is the "autopilot engagement" automatic or optional?
2) if it is optional and decided by the driver were ALL conditions prescribed for the engagement fulfilled?
3) what is the failover or fallback provision?
4) if the failover/fallback provision is the disengagement of the "autopilot", which kind of visual, acoustic and sensorial warnings are given? and in how much time the switch is supposed to happen?
Let's think of what we already know and have some experience with, the auto-pilot in large, commercial aircrafts.
These are operated by two highly trained professionals, still the amount of accidents when the autopilot was accidentally disengaged (by the pilot or by a lesser known procedure of the system) or the warnings requiring to take manual control were not early enough (or not loud/clear enough) to allow the pilots to take control have been historically common enough.
In most, if not all of these cases the responsibility was given to the pilots or to lacks in their attention or training.
And usually on planes we are talking of several seconds available.
So my guess
is that until the system will be not only completely automatic, a but also not in any way under control of the driver (think of a car without pedals and steering wheel) one way or the other the driver will be held responsible.
- In theory there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice there is. -