March 26, 2021 Feature

Autonomous Vehicles and the Race for Public Trust

By Jeff Bleich

While AI driving technologies are advancing rapidly, public acceptance moves only at the speed of trust. That is why the current race to deploy driverless vehicles is as much a race for public trust as it is a race for superhuman driving technology. Lawyers, policymakers, and regulators—just as much as engineers—may prove to be the most important variable in when and how autonomous vehicles (AVs) begin full-scale operations. The legal profession needs to help now in resolving novel questions about how we set AV safety standards, how liability should be apportioned, and how data may be used. Time matters. The nations and companies that are first to deploy successfully may well set the standard for all others. This could be the difference between an industry that stalls or is hijacked by other interests and an industry that achieves its potential of saving millions of people from needless death and injury, drastically reducing the cost and burden of private travel, easing traffic, freeing up leisure time, opening up urban spaces, and slashing carbon emissions, all without compromising privacy. This article addresses some of the most important issues that need to be resolved as AVs are deployed and offers some insights about the most promising approaches to meet this moment.

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