What Are the Barriers to Autonomous Vehicles? The Answers May Surprise You…

Foley & Lardner LLP

Foley hosted Drive Forward: The Future of Telematics on January 14 and undoubtedly, our speakers agreed – the connected car is here to stay with technology rapidly advancing towards the integration of autonomous vehicles. Speakers provided supplier, OEM and legal perspectives on the technologies and challenges associated with the increased interconnectivity of vehicles.

Though Telematics are already in most cars (think self-parking, smart cruise control, etc.) the goal is to improve V2V communication in order to make cars fully autonomous. But why is that the goal? Because customers insist on the latest technology for their vehicles, not only for convenience but most importantly, for safety. This is no easy task, as one speaker pointed out – there are more lines of code in a luxury vehicle than a 777 Dreamliner.

And while technology is a challenge faced by both suppliers and OEMs, the integration of connected cars and ultimately, autonomous vehicles, will not be led by technology; they’ll be led by legal and ethical issues. As Dashboard Insights explored earlier, technology is not the limiting factor in getting the autonomous, or driverless, car on the road. The limiting factors are diverse and they include:

  • Ethical issues – i.e. what do you hit, another car or a pedestrian?
  • Regulatory issues – should states or the federal government implement laws?
  • Legal issues – who is liable if the car hits a pedestrian, the OEM, the person who wrote the algorithm, etc.?
  • Insurance issues – how do you insure something not controlled by a person?
  • Privacy and big data issues – who is responsible for safely storing increasingly personal information? Who is liable when the info is hacked? Does the technology need to comply with the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights?

All these issues will need to be addressed before the general public will embrace a driverless vehicle. The Dashboard Insights team will continue to follow and will continue to publish articles on the developments in telematics technology and related regulations. Stay tuned…

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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