Hugh Pickens writes “Google’s autonomous cars have demonstrated that self-driving vehicles are now largely workable and could greatly limit human error, but questions of legal liability, privacy and insurance regulation have yet to be addressed. Simple questions, like whether the police should have the right to pull over autonomous vehicles, have yet to be answered and legal scholars and government officials warn that society has only begun wrestling with laws required for autonomous vehicles. The big question remains legal liability for the designers and manufacturers as some point out that liability exemptions have been mandated for vaccines, which are believed to offer great value for the general health of the population, despite some risks. ‘Why would you even put money into developing it?’ says Gary E. Marchant, director of the Center for Law, Science and Innovation at the Arizona State University law school. ‘I see this as a huge barrier to this technology unless there are some policy ways around it.’ Congress could consider creating a comprehensive regulatory regime to govern the use of these technologies say researchers at the Rand Corporation adding that while federal preemption has important disadvantages, it might speed the development and utilization of these technologies (PDF) and should be considered, if accompanied by a comprehensive federal regulatory regime. ‘This may minimize the number of inconsistent legal regimes that manufacturers face and simplify and speed the introduction of these technologies.'”
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Autonomous Vehicles and the Law