Compliance » The Regulatory Challenge of Autonomous Vehicles

The Regulatory Challenge of Autonomous Vehicles

April 21, 2017

The autonomous vehicle is one of the most important technological innovations of the last several decades. One thing that separates the AV industry from other advanced sectors is the difficult regulatory issues that come with it. Public safety is the foremost concern. Even remarkable technical achievements, bankrolled by major investments, won’t be enough. For the AV industry to advance, it is essential for technical progress to be accompanied by the creation of legal structures that address the technical, economic and social reality.

It is vital, for example, to develop a clear understanding of the decision- making algorithms at the heart of AV technology. Artificial intelligence will be making life and death decisions. A high level of confidence in the reliability of the underlying technology must be reached before the regulator will feel comfortable enough to give the stamp of approval.

Another important issue is the question of tort liability in car accidents. As cars become autonomous, the question of driver negligence starts to become a moot point. The legal structure will need to be reviewed, paving the way for a new regime that possibly holds the manufacturer and other service providers chiefly liable for damage caused to people or property in AV-related accidents.

The U.S. is leading, both in terms of technological advancements and new legislation. The recent U.S. Department of Transportation AV policy, for example,  provides significant input for state legislators, and is a step forward for the industry.

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