January 30, 2017 Articles

Taking the Wheel: New Federal Guidance on Vehicle Automation and Cybersecurity

By Patrick J. Cleary and Angela G. Strickland

This fall, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released two documents outlining its proposed guidance concerning the regulation of two interconnected developments in motor vehicle design and vehicle operation—autonomous vehicle technologies and vehicle cybersecurity protection concerns. In releasing this guidance, NHTSA acted ahead of any Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS), proposed rulemaking, or regulatory requests, asserting that its mandate to ensure safe vehicles provides it the authority to issue such a policy.

his article provides a high-level overview of NHTSA's guidance on autonomous vehicle technologies and on cybersecurity best practices for modern vehicles, and discusses how the guidance likely changes original equipment manufacturer responsibilities. In particular, this discussion focuses on the potential move toward a holistic regulation of motor vehicles throughout the product life cycle and its effect on product liability law.

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