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Volkswagen

VW wants automakers to team up for self-driving standards, report says

VW reportedly believes that such an alliance could help companies mitigate future legal troubles.

Automakers collaborating on self-driving technology won't just benefit the consumer -- it could very well defend the companies against potential legal issues, as well.

Volkswagen is in the process of developing an "industrywide alliance" in the self-driving space, Automotive News reports, citing comments from an anonymous VW executive. VW Group's board of management could have options for such an alliance in front of them as soon as October, but it's unclear what the timeline would look like beyond that.

While some partnerships are meant to benefit the consumer, Automotive News' report seems to paint this potential partnership as one meant to benefit the companies behind it all. The unnamed VW executive told Automotive News as much: "The question is: How do we bring products to market that guarantee we made ourselves as small a target for damage claims as possible?"

That might sound more nefarious than beneficial, since it deals with the idea of an autonomous car accidentally killing a person, but it's a legitimate concern that automakers face as they begin making plans to introduce autonomy to the public. Automotive News points out that discussions picked up steam after Uber's self-driving XC90 struck and killed a pedestrian in Arizona earlier this year.

"When you are involved in an accident, you have a better chance in court when you can prove that your car adheres to the latest technical standard," the executive said to Automotive News. Part of that would involve getting multiple automakers to implement the same hardware and software, potentially under an open-source agreement that would allow companies to more easily share data and ensure everything is up to snuff.

With AN claiming that Volkswagen is talking to more than a dozen companies about this alliance, including rival automakers, it could very well shape the early days of consumer-grade autonomy. That's still years down the road, if not a decade or more, but it's important to get in front of any potential issues before they happen.