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Drive Me: Volvo urges US gov to establish guidelines for autonomous car testing

Volvo CEO Håkan Samuelsson will address U.S. government officials this Thursday on the importance of autonomous car regulation, but due to Swedish time-travel techniques, we already know what he will say.

Mr. Samuelsson’s speech was sent out in advance of his arrival at the Embassy of Sweden in Washington D.C., ensuring that his message is heard loud and clear. If you’ve been reading the news lately, you’ll know that Volvo debuted its IntelliSafe Auto Pilot system on Tuesday, which gives you a big hint at the day’s topic.

“The U.S. risks losing its leading position [in autonomous driving] due to the lack of federal guidelines for the testing and certification of autonomous vehicles,” Samuelsson will say. “Europe has suffered to some extent by having a patchwork of rules and regulations. It would be a shame if the U.S. took a similar path to Europe in this crucial area.”

According to Samuelsson, the lack of oversight at the federal level makes it an uphill battle for automakers to design, produce, and even test self-driving cars, and the continued truancy of regulation could lead to a major slowdown in the development of autonomous vehicles.

“The absence of one set of rules means car makers cannot conduct credible tests to develop cars that meet all the different guidelines of all 50 U.S. states,” he will say. “If we are to ensure a smooth transition to autonomous mobility then together we must create the necessary framework that will support this.”

Related: Volvo reveals ‘IntelliSafe Auto Pilot’ autonomous driving technology

Driverless cars are coming like it or not, but Samuelsson argues that they will arrive even quicker than lawmakers anticipate. Car manufacturers are rushing to produce a mass-market vehicle that can operate without any driver input, and that haste could potentially result in issues like cybersecurity being glossed over.

“We are constantly evolving defensive software to counter the risks associated with hacking a car,” he will say. “We do not blame Apple, or Microsoft for computer viruses or hackers.”

Samuelsson will also assure that Volvo will accept full liability while its vehicles are in autonomous mode.