Sunday 10 July 2016 5:07 pm

Driverless car buyers may need new insurance covering cyber-attacks, and even ransom, a new report has warned

Driverless car users may need to find cover against a raft of new dangers, including ransom payments demanded by hackers.

A new paper from motor insurer Axa has warned that the rise of autonomous vehicles could lead to cars being hacked to conduct criminal activity, or even to be used a weapon.

Alternatively, drivers could see their vehicles comandered by cyber criminals, with control only returned on payment of ransoms.

“These are all new risks which insurers will need to consider as society moves towards autonomous vehicles.

“It will also mean that insurance policies offer the correct type of cyber cover. This will also be a challenge for the automotive industry, which will be required to build in new security features to their vehicles, covering issues previously not touched upon,” Axa said.

It comes after the first fatality in a self-driving car, involving a Tesla Model S vehicle which was using a driver assistance feature.

The American motor manufacturer revealed last month that a customer had died after the Tesla car's autopilot mode failed to distinguish a large white 18-wheel truck against a bright sky.

In an announcement, the manufacturer said the car attempted to drive full speed under the trailer, “with the bottom of the trailer impacting the windshield of the Model S.”

Axa's technical director David Williams said: “We should acknowledge that there are unknowns with driverless cars, such as cyber security, and it is understandable that people may have a healthy scepticism of them.

“However, the many potential benefits, from lives saved through to climate change, present an overwhelmingly positive case for welcoming these technological developments.”