Authored Articles & Publications Jun 29, 2016

The Good, (Potentially) Bad, and (Avoiding) the Ugly: The Benefits, Challenges, and Opportunities Driverless Vehicles Offer to Municipalities

BB&K Attorney Gregory Rodriguez Looks Down the Road in Municipal Lawyer Magazine

By Gregory Rodriguez

New innovative and transformative technologies are being incorporated into our transportation networks at a fast pace. No longer are we just talking about laying more concrete for roads as we discuss the future of transportation. Instead, we are talking about incorporating transformative technologies, like driverless cars, into our transportation network. While there are still a lot of unknowns concerning the roll-out of autonomous vehicles — including what safety regulations will look like, their potential societal benefits and economic opportunities — their cutting-edge nature have generated a significant and well deserved amount of “buzz” over a short period of time. However, since such technology does not fit neatly into any existing regulatory framework,1 we are seeing a traffic jam at the intersection of technology and the law.

Despite the regulatory hurdles, the potential benefits from the smart adoption and rollout of driverless technologies appear to be worth the investment of significant time, money and other resources necessary to bring driverless cars onto the market sooner rather than later. Companies like Google, Lyft, Uber, GM, Toyota, Tesla, Apple and others are racing (and investing significant monetary resources) to position themselves as leaders in the development and testing of this technology. Also, Europe, including the United Kingdom and Germany, China and Australia are also looking to be seen as leaders in the advancement of driverless vehicles.

With the development of driverless vehicles appearing to be well past “first gear,” the relevant questions seem to be when, where and how to make sure this technology exists in harmony with our existing transportation network. The correct answers to such questions are critical to preventing a driverless nightmare filled with congestion and counteracting the significant investments and improvements to public transportation made in recent years.

Click here to read the entire article, published in the July/August 2016 issue of Municipal Lawyer, a bimonthly magazine offered by the International Municipal Lawyers Association.

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