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Driverless technology and the issue of liability: Who’s responsible?

If driverless technology is to ever advance beyond the testing stage, legislators will need to determine who will be held responsible in an AV accident

It seems like every week, another high-tech company or car manufacturer announces that it will “soon begin road-testing” their version of an autonomous vehicle (AV). In fact, companies such as Audi have been testing self-driving cars for years. In one particular demonstration, a fully automated Audi TTS ascended Pikes Peak in Colorado at near-racing speeds.

Now, four states — Nevada, Florida, California and Michigan — have legalized the testing of AVs on public streets. Does this mean that we will soon be sharing the highway with robot cars like those seen in the movie Total Recall? Not likely. The issue of accident liability is a big bump in the road on the way to becoming a driverless society, and resolving this problem is going to take a long time.

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John F. O'Rourke

John F. O'Rourke is a registered patent attorney and inventor at WHGC, P.L.C. He has nearly 40 years of overall experience in the applied...

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Patrick Soon

Patrick Soon is an attorney at WHGC, P.L.C. whose practice focuses on intellectual property. Outside of his work at WHGC, Mr. Soon volunteers for...

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