Kia US vp

Korean car manufacturer Kia has admitted it is already deep into the development of autonomous cars.

Following the likes of Google, Nissan and Volvo in producing vehicles that drive themselves, Kia's American vice president of product planning Orth Hedrick told AOL Cars the firm's tech team is already years into the development of the new technology.

However, he admitted the systems had not been without problems, not least the issues surrounding the legalities of cars that drive themselves.

"We are actively working on autonomous cars," said Hedrick. "We are working with the Department for Transport here in the States about where the liability lies if there's an accident. Just look at the problems GM is currently having over a switch – this is a litigious society and we need to be careful.

"You can already imagine the conversations: 'My car did it!' or 'The car told me to do it' – there are huge issues potentially."

Hedrick said he believed that states like California, where he is based, would be first to introduce autonomous-only lanes on motorways, as they currently have in place for electric vehicles and multi-occupancy vehicles.

"Autonomous cars will happen," he said. "But the biggest challenge is liability. These cars work well on freeways, but it's in cities and built-up areas where things get confusing. Throw in things like cyclists and construction into the mix that the computers can struggle and you then experience problems.

"The other issue car manufacturers have to contend with when it comes to autonomous cars is what happens when the customer falls out of sync servicing? Could you trust autonomy after six years when the car hadn't been serviced? Who would be liable then?

"There are a lot of road blocks in the way for autonomous cars in terms of technology and legislation, but make no mistake they will be here in 10 to 15 years time."

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