The legal issues of autonomous vehicles

The technologies of automated vehicle(AV) develop very fast. Some companies such as google and tesla even manufacture the cars that the driver can sleep or read the books when the car is driving. According to the SAE, these kind of cars belong to lever 3 autonomous car.

However, the law for autonomous vehicle isn’t keeping up with the technologies. On the federal level in the United States, there is very little regulation related to the testing and operation of autonomous vehicles. Since 2013, only two federal bills have been introduced that touch upon autonomous vehicles, and only one has become law.

Actually, the legal issues are difficult to define. Firstly, for the manufacturers, how the law can regulate the quality of the AV. The manufacturers try their best to create more functions of AV to suit for the market, but the regulator must monitor that whether these functions are dangerous to the drivers or the passengers. How to balance the interest between the manufacturers and drivers does not decide yet. But we must know that the autonomous vehicles must meet some benchmarks before they are sold to the mark. Making the benchmarks need both the government and the researchers’ participation.


Secondly, when the accident happens, who should take the responsibility. This problem relates to human’s life safety. Because now we don’t have enough law for AV, so we can just use the current transportation law for common vehicles to judge the AV. To find out who is the main responsible person and sentence according to their rate of responsibility.

Actually, in the future, autonomous vehicles are the main stream of transportation. It’s necessary for government to make perfect laws to protect human’s right. But in my opinion, only the technologies is developed, most of the ethnic problems can be solved. For example, the most famous ethnic problem “Trolley Problem”, we don’t know that we should kill one person to save five people or kill five people to save one person. But imagine that if the autonomous can are in lever 5 classification, the AV can deal with this situation easily, it can turn the direction upward. Because the AV don’t need to drive by the pathway. The “trolley problem” is set up by the current technologies. But before the technologies is developed enough, we still need to solve the problem technologies and laws.



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