Autonomous Automatic Automobiles

July 27, 2012

On March 1 of this year, Nevada Revised Statutes section 482A.010 came into effect, part of a larger Chapter 482A on the use and legality of autonomous vehicles.  This makes the Silver State the first American jurisdiction to formally legalize the use of driverless vehicles.

Just peering through a few sections within that chapter gives a sense of some of the issues that need to be contemplated as non-human actors have an increasing role in our lives.  For Example, NRS 5482A.020 defines the phrase “artificial intelligence,” the first time this has been done in a State Statute.

Nevada gets the prize for first jurisdiction to legalize the use of an autonomous vehicle, but it’s doubtful that it will be the last.  Bills are currently pending in multiple other states, including California.  Something to keep in mind next time you get cut off on the L.A. Freeway.  See California Senate Bill 1298:

This bill would authorize the operation of an autonomous vehicle, as defined, on public roads by a licensed driver who possesses the proper class of license for the type of vehicle being operated if either of 2 an application is submitted to the Department of Motor Vehicles and either of 2 conditions applies, including, among other things, that the manufacturer of the autonomous technology certifies that the autonomous vehicle has a mechanism to engage and disengage the autonomous technology that is easily accessible to the operator and are met. The first condition is that the driver be seated in the driver’s seat, monitoring the safe operation of the autonomous vehicle, and be capable of taking over immediate manual control of the autonomous vehicle in the event of an autonomous technology failure or other emergency, and the 2nd condition is that the manufacturer of the autonomous technology provides, among other things, that the autonomous vehicle has a mechanism to engage and disengage the autonomous technology that is easily accessible to the operator. The bill would require that the autonomous vehicle’s technology meets all federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards for the vehicle’ s model year and all other applicable safety standards and performance requirements set forth in state and federal law and the regulations promulgated pursuant to those provisions laws .
2011 California Senate Bill No. 1298, California 2011-2012 Regular Session, 2011 California Senate Bill No. 1298, California 2011-2012 Regular Session

 

RESEARCH REFERENCES

To see proposed legislation on driverless cars, I tried the following search in Proposed and Enacted legislation in WestlawNext: advanced: (driverless autonomous +5 vehicle automobile).  I found 42 hits when running this in All States.

A ‘plain-language’ search in Proposed and Enacted Legislation on WestlawNext for autonomous automatic vehicles also delivered relevant results.

For more an autonomous vehicles, I tried the following plain language search in allnews: driverless autonomous vehicles.  I saw 7496 hits; notably, even without applying a date restriction, most of the top news hits are from 2012.