Thanks to Stanford CIS and CAR fellow Bryant Walker Smith for guest-posting here at Volokh Conspiracy last week on driverless car technologies. You can read his posts on driverless carts as a sort of closed course for introducing driverless vehicles; the impact of automation technologies, including driverless cars, on transportation infrastructure and environmental planning issues; standards of “reasonableness” in assessing the safety and liability of self-driving cars; how to plan for a mix of technologies and varying degrees of advanced capabilities in a road system with increasing numbers of self-driving cars, including the possibility of planning for obsolescence; and a final post observing that, in the dialogue between engineering and law, it is law’s turn to speak and lay down some essential markers.
Thanks to shout-outs from readers who contacted me directly – mostly to tell me that it is helpful to hear from someone with expertise and the willingness to be cautious about the technological directions, both as a matter of predictions as well as normative judgments about the right or wrong way to approach this new technological future. While some commenters were a bit frustrated at Bryant’s caution in making sweeping or categorical responses or engaging the many widely discussed dilemmas that these new technologies might raise, in favor of a much more careful and cautious approach to the many unsettled questions of design and regulation, this caution is what I most often hear expressed by people directly engaged in addressing these questions as policy.
Bryant’s posts also located driverless car technologies in the larger framework of transportation infrastructure; the road system, its use by emerging technologies and impacts on it, as well as other transportation infrastructure such as mass transportation. Even if one believes the right policy is simply to let the technological path [...]