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RAND: Don’t Make the Perfect the Enemy of the Good

Researchers with the RAND Corporation have suggested that putting autonomous vehicles on the road before they are perfect can save lives. The researchers developed a model to estimate the number of lives saved or lost under 500 scenarios. The scenarios differed based on eight factors, including when driverless cars were introduced, how quickly they were adopted by consumers, and how they improved over time. According to this analysis, introducing automated vehicles when they are slightly safer than the average human would save some 500,000 more lives than waiting to introduce such vehicles...
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Delphi buys Autonomous Vehicle Company Nutonomy for $400 million

Delphi Automotive announced it is purchasing the self-driving car company Nutonomy for $450 million. Founded in 2013 by Dr. Karl Iagnemma and Dr. Emilio Frazzoli, Nutonomy is Boston-based company that develops autonomous vehicle technology.  In discussing the purchase, Delphi Chief Technology Officer Glen De Vos noted that Delphi wants to be a leader in autonomous vehicles but sees the technology accelerating first in the commercial space and then bleeding over into consumer vehicles over time.  By buying Nutonomy, De Vos sees Delphi gaining a significant advantage in intellectual property...
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Tesla Strikes Deal with Liberty Mutual On Custom Insurance Package

Tesla recently announced a deal with Liberty Mutual to create a customized insurance package for its electric vehicles.  The new plan, called InsureMyTesla,  was designed specifically for Tesla vehicles and provide overall lower insurance costs by factoring in the vehicles’ Autopilot safety features and maintenance costs. Tesla launched the package on October 13 in the US in all 50 states, but  a variation of the package also exists in 20 other countries through partnerships with different insurance companies across the globe.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found...
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UK Considering Bill on Automated and Electric Vehicles

A new bill introduced in the UK Parliament would govern self-driving cars and electric vehicles. The bill will require insurance for both the automated vehicle itself and the driver of an automated vehicle. It provides that the vehicle insurer will be liable for accidents caused by an automated vehicle that is driving itself; however, if an accident is caused by the human driver, the driver will be liable. The bill also requires highway services and gas stations to install chargers for electric...
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Accident-Free Driverless Cars?

Autonomous vehicle technology developer Mobileye provided the industry with proposed standards to control how self-driving cars operate. These standards, which are based on mathematical formulas, are meant to ensure that the self-driving car does not cause accidents, and to determine how liability will be assigned if an accident occurs. Thus, for example, the standards might ensure that a self-driving car is far enough from a vehicle in front of it to stop safely, and allocate fault in the event a human driver cuts off the self-driving car and is then...
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Electric and Hybrid Cars Selling Fast in Used-Car Market

A recent study by iSeeCars.com found that electric cars and plug-in hybrids have become some of the fastest-selling used cars. During the first eight months of 2017, six alternative-fuel cars were among the top ten quickest to sell of all one- to three-year old used cars. Three of those models were electric (Fiat 500e, Nissan Leaf, and Tesla Model S), and three were plug-in hybrids (BMW i3, Toyota Plug-in Hybrid, Ford Fusion Energi). Many of these models also saw fairly significant price drops from the year...
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China Moves Forward with Electric Cars

China has announced its plan to require auto manufacturers to sell more alternative-fuel vehicles in the country. Companies that manufacture or import more than 30,000 vehicles a year will be required to obtain credits for “new energy vehicles” (including battery electric cars, plug-in hybrids, and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles) that amount to 10% of annual sales by 2019. In 2020, that percentage will increase to 12%. Because of the way the new energy vehicle credits work, those percentages will likely equate to approximately 4-5% of actual vehicles sales. China had previously indicated that...
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Traffic Fatalities Decline in First Six Months of Year

Traffic fatalities are 1 percent lower in the first six months of 2017, compared with the same period in 2016, according to preliminary estimates from the National Safety Council (NSC).  The organization says the decline comes after the steepest estimated two-year increase in traffic deaths since 1964.  Despite the decline, traffic fatalities in the first six months in 2017 are still 8 percent higher than the same period in...
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Mercedes-Benz to invest $1 billion in to produce electric vehicles in Alabama

Mercedes-Benz announced plans to invest $1 billion in Alabama to produce electric vehicles. The investment will go both to an expansion of the German luxury brand’s existing plant near Tuscaloosa and to build a new 1 million-square-foot battery factory. Mercedes’ move comes as the major German automakers, including Volkswagen and BMW, are pivoting rapidly away from diesel engines amid increasingly rigid global emissions regulations. Mercedes said it plans to begin construction in 2018 and start production in “the beginning of the next decade.” The move fits squarely...
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New Federal Policy on Automated Vehicles

The U.S. Department of Transportation and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have issued “version 2.0” of the Federal Automated Vehicle Policy, originally released in 2016. Automated Driving Systems: A Vision for Safety 2.0 is shorter and more streamlined than the original policy guidance. It contains voluntary guidance for manufacturers of Level 3-5 automated driving systems, and establishes best practices for state legislatures and highway safety officials in addressing automated driving systems. The voluntary guidance includes 12 “priority safety design elements” such as...
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House Passes Self-Driving Car Bill

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed the SELF DRIVE Act, federal legislation governing self-driving cars. As previously noted, the bill would exempt up to 100,000 autonomous vehicles from existing federal safety rules, and would instead require the U.S. Department of Transportation to develop new standards for autonomous vehicles. The DOT would have authority over testing of autonomous vehicles. Manufacturers would need to establish cybersecurity plans and privacy policies for the automated vehicles they develop, as well. The bill now goes to the Senate for...
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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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