• Perspective: The US Legal System - An Impediment to Autonomous Vehicles
  • March 3, 2016
  • Law Firm: Sutherland Asbill Brennan LLP - Washington Office
  • Technology often outpaces the legal system, but when it comes to autonomous vehicles, the speed of the technology’s development and the piecemeal evolution of the US legal system may create confusion on the road. In their videocast, Michael Nelson and Kymberly Kochis discuss the current state of autonomous vehicles, relevant legal developments, and the gaps in the legal framework that will need to be filled in as this technology moves forward.

    The technology is racing ahead quickly, and every day there are new commitments to develop autonomous technology. One car ahead of the pack is the Tesla, which was recently able to upgrade its operating system without the need to alert the owner. A second significant development is an autonomous freightliner, Inspiration, that is actually operating on Nevada’s roads. But in order to operate in Nevada, special laws had to be created specifically for the truck. For example, the autonomous features of the freightliner may only be used on highways. Other laws governing autonomous vehicles are being developed in states like California, but most of these laws focus on testing and are not sufficient to prepare for the use and operation of these vehicles once they are fully functional. Much more work is needed to develop the legal framework, including rules regarding tort liability, mandatory insurance requirements, and product liability.