Autonomous Vehicles: Now and In the Future, and Where Is the Legal Landscape Headed?

RAIL: The Journal of Robotics, Artificial Intelligence & Law

In this article, the author explains that, as autonomous vehicles become more and more prevalent, the current legal framework for allocating liability is going to have to adapt accordingly—along with insurance coverage for such claims. The author adds that there is also a fundamental question that we will have to address as to whether fully automated driving systems are beneficial or not to our overall vehicular transportation framework.

Autonomous vehicles are no longer just a futuristic dream; rather, automated driving technology is advancing so that such vehicles can become part of the mainstream. Automated driving technologies that everyone may be familiar with include adaptive cruise control (which automatically slows down or speeds up a vehicle to maintain a safe following distance), self-parking, automatic emergency braking (which can detect a possible collision and apply the brakes, or perhaps even steer the car, to avoid or lessen the collision), and lane centering (which automatically keeps the vehicle centered in a lane).

Presently, automated driving systems do not completely automate driving. Therefore, the driver is still responsible for controlling and safely operating the vehicle.

However, in the future, automated driving technologies will take over more and more driving tasks. This trajectory could be viewed as a benefit because it will help to eliminate human error that causes crashes.

This also raises questions regarding allocation of fault and/or liability between the human driver versus the manufacturer of the autonomous vehicle/automated driving system as automation takes over the driving task.

Will (or should) the human driver be held liable in accidents involving autonomous vehicles, or the automobile manufacturer?

And how should our legal system adapt negligence and/or product liability principles for accidents involving autonomous vehicles?

To read the full article, please click here.

“Autonomous Vehicles: Now and In the Future, and Where Is the Legal Landscape Headed?” by Elaine D. Solomon was published in the March–April 2023 edition of RAIL: The Journal of Robotics, Artificial Intelligence & Law (Vol. 6, No. 2), a Fastcase, Inc. publication. Reprinted with permission.