Eversheds Sutherland Up to Speed Blog
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How Highly Automated Vehicles Will Drive Legal Change

Those watching the automated vehicle industry expect a shift in the next few decades from humans driving cars with some automated functions to fully or near-fully autonomous vehicles that need limited or no human driver involvement. When highly automated vehicles are prevalent on the road, the legal risks associated with manufacturing cars and driving them will naturally be allocated differently than they are today. But what will those changes look like, and what can be done to prepare? In their article for Law360, Eversheds Sutherland (US) attorneys Jason McCarter and Tracey Ledbetter...
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Podcast: The Spotlight

On this episode of The Spotlight radio show, Eversheds Sutherland (US) Partner Michael Nelson discusses the status of artificial intelligence, one of the biggest hurdles that driverless car technology will face and why he thinks the rules of the road will need to be rewritten.
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House Committee Moves Forward with Autonomous Vehicle Bill

The Energy and Commerce Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives has approved a bill that would establish federal guidelines for the development of self-driving cars. The bill would allow auto manufacturers to deploy up to 100,000 driverless cars per year without meeting existing auto safety standards. (For example, these vehicles may not have to have a steering wheel and floor pedals.) The bill also prohibits states from regulating the design, construction, software, or communication of driverless cars, although local governments would still regulate things like registration,...
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The End of the Internal Combustion Engine?

The British government has recently announced that it would ban the sale of new gas- and diesel-powered cars beginning in 2040. It also announced that it would invest approximately $1.8 billion with a goal that all vehicles in Britain would produce zero emissions by 2050. The switch from internal combustion to “clean cars” is necessary due to the health and environmental damage caused by vehicle emissions, according to Environment Secretary Michael Gove. The move by Britain follows similar proposals in France and...
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New Investments in Trucking Logistics

A trucking logistics company, called Convoy, recently raised a new round of funding, and its investors include Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos. Convoy’s software links up truckers with nearby shipping jobs, in what has been billed as “Uber for trucking.” (Uber itself now has a similar service, called Uber Freight.) The company bills itself as helping the trucking market cut costs and pollution. It plans to expand from the Pacific Northwest into other parts of the country and to continue developing its...
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No Driverless Cars in India?

The transport minister of India recently stated that the country would not allow driverless cars. India’s Union Minister for Road Transport, Highways, and Shipping stated, “We are not going to promote any technology or policy that will render people jobless.” Instead, he said that the ministry would open driver training institutes and develop its own driver aggregation app in order to meet the demand for commercial drivers.
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House Subcommittee Panel Unanimously Approves Self-Driving Legislation

The Energy and Commerce Committee’s Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection panel unanimously approved a bill that would be Congress’s first attempt at adopting laws for autonomous vehicles. The bill’s bipartisan support was due in part to the Republican leadership’s adoption of Democratic proposals on safety oversight by federal regulators. In essence, the bill would allow manufacturers to get their self-driving cars on the road and would preempt state rules on mechanical, software, and safety systems for these vehicles. It includes a directive to the National Highway Traffic Safety...
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Elon Musk Discusses Risks Posed by Artificial Intelligence

At the recently held National Governors Association meeting, Elon Musk told U.S. governors that artificial intelligence is a “fundamental existential risk for human civilization”—far beyond existing concerns about the impact of automation on the U.S. job market. Specifically, he raised concerns about the way that regulation for new technologies has been reactive rather than proactive, and cautioned the governors not to allow such technology to develop unfettered. One effort that Musk has undertaken in this area is to invest in a project designed to make artificial intelligence technology...
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Volvo Announces Shift Towards Electric Engines

Volvo announced on Wednesday that all new Volvo models  would be either fully electric or a hybrid starting in 2019. Volvo is the first major auto maker to announce intentions to abandon combustion engines which have been the standard in the industry  for more than a century. Hakan Samuelsson, president and chief executive of Volvo Cars, said in a statement that the move “marks the end of the solely combustion engine-powered car,” reiterating his target of selling one million electric cars and hybrids by 2025.  The shift to electric vehicles comes as manufacturers have been dealing with the...
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Videocast: Connected and Automated Cars—The Federal Government Addresses Cybersecurity and Data Privacy

Connected and automated vehicles are being built with components that enable them to not only access information, but also collect, store and transmit data for performance and safety purposes as well. Furthermore, these vehicles are expected to produce an enormous amount of data, some of which will be personal and sensitive, such as precise real-time geolocation data and the contents of communications that result when drivers connect their mobile phones to a vehicle’s computer system. In their videocast, Connected and Automated Cars—The Federal Government Addresses Cybersecurity and Data...
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Automation’s Impact Across A Wide Range of Industries

It is becoming clear that the development of autonomous vehicles will have implications beyond the automotive industry alone. In a recent article, Mike Nelson and Trevor Satnick of Eversheds Sutherland (US) LLP provide insight into those implications with regard to areas such as auto insurance, ethical issues, big data, urban and suburban planning, and artificial intelligence. For example, the article posits that individuals in the future may be able to hail autonomous vehicles the same way they currently hail an Uber or Lyft ride. If so, the availability of such services could change the...
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The FTC and NHTSA Plan Workshop on Vehicles and Cybersecurity

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are hosting a public workshop to discuss consumer privacy issues posed by technological developments in vehicles, particularly those with some form of wireless connectivity. The potential dangers to consumers from such connected vehicles are significant, as one estimate provides that by 2020 autonomous vehicles will generate about 4,000 gigabytes of data a day (about as much data as is generated by 3000 individuals through their computers and other devices). The workshop will cover what data should...
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University of Michigan White Paper Aims to Build Accelerated Evaluation Processes for Autonomous Vehicles

The University of Michigan recently published a white paper aimed at accelerating the development of autonomous vehicles through more efficient testing processes. The paper identifies a significant problem in getting autonomous vehicles on the road: how to develop tests to accurately represent real-world driving situations? The approach suggested by the paper essentially focuses on “break[ing] down difficult real-world driving situations into components that can be tested or simulated repeatedly.” According to the paper, the suggested approach will cut the time to evaluate safety...
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Texas Law Permits Free Operation of Autonomous Vehicles

A bill recently signed in Texas, which becomes effective in September, allows autonomous vehicles to operate freely on state roads–without a driver’s supervision. The law requires the autonomous vehicles to be in compliance with federal laws and safety standards, to be registered with the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, to be covered by insurance, and to have a recording system. The law is part of an effort to foster innovation and prepare for developments in autonomous vehicles. With the passing of this bill, Texas became one of eighteen states that have passed autonomous...
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