As technology evolves, so does the law by which it is governed. One of the latest trends to arise from the tech community is autonomous vehicles, otherwise known as self-driving cars. This new area of law has been coined as incorporating “very traditional legal issues, but with a very new context.” (As described by Jennifer Dukarski from the Butzel Long firm.)
Many of the companies venturing into the realm of self-driving cars – Ford, Google, Lyft, Uber, and Volvo – are combining forces to form a lobbying group aimed at educating lawmakers on the nuances of self-driving cars. Manufacturers of the vehicles are aiming to have a singular set of federal guidelines in place to help streamline a national adoption of these vehicles, rather than have varying state regulations which would hamper compliance when traveling intrastate. For instance, California is proposing restrictions on the autonomous nature of the vehicle such as driver-centric steering wheels, brake and accelerator pedals, whereas Florida allows autonomous cars to travel unoccupied.
As can be expected, law firms are having to adapt and innovate, much like their clients. Legal teams are facing challenges from contract negotiation to regulatory compliance. As the product evolves, so will the law.
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