Volvo Car Group has become the first major car maker to accept full responsibility for future accidents involving any of its self-driving cars in an autonomous mode. This historic decision announced yesterday might influence other self-driving car makers such as Toyota, which said its own self-drivers will reach retail markets by 2020.

Analysts said the pledge by Volvo president and CEO Håkan Samuelsson gives the Swedish car maker a market edge over rivals that haven’t offered or who don’t plan to offer similar liability protection for their customers. What impact Volvo’s decision will have on car insurance isn’t clear at this early stage but Samuelsson’s appearance in Washington D.C. on Thursday is expected to give more clarity to this issue.

One of the thorniest questions holding back full adaptation of self-driving vehicles is who’s liable for crashes involving these vehicles. The culprit in this case isn’t clear cut since driverless vehicles are made by car companies but owe their autonomy to electronic devices made by a slew of other firms.

In announcing Volvo’s acceptance of full liability, Samuelsson also noted that autonomous technology will soon be ready for the mass market. He urged U.S. lawmakers in Washington D.C. to make certain the legal framework covering self-driving cars will be in place by the time driverless cars arrive in the 2020s. He warned the absence of these laws will delay widespread adoption of driverless cars, according to Autoblog.

"The U.S. risks losing its leading position due to the lack of federal guidelines for the testing and certification of autonomous vehicles”, Samuelsson said. "Europe has suffered to some extend by having a patchwork of rules and regulations. It would be a shame if the U.S. took a similar path”.

Volvo began its self-driving car pilot project on public roads in 2013. The test involved 100 self-driving Volvo cars that used public roads daily in the Swedish city of Gothenburg.

Whether Toyota will accept the same responsibility as Volvo is unclear at the moment but the Japanese car maker has said its first self-driving cars will reach the public by 2020. Google, Nissan and General Motors also plan to market their driverless cars in 2020, said Cnet.

Toyota said a driverless car called the “Highway Teammate” (a modified Lexus GS) has been testing its self-driving technology at Tokyo's Shuto Expressway. Its name for its self-driving technology is the “Mobility Teammate Concept”.

Toyota has invested $50 million in artificial intelligence research to make its self-driving cars much safer. It will reveal more details about its self-driving cars at the Tokyo Motor Show on October 29.

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