Autonomous Vehicles, Liability and Private Standards

Gary Marchant
Arizona State University

The risk of legal liability is deterring the introduction of autonomous vehicles by major vehicle manufacturers. To the extent this liability risk is delaying AV introduction until manufacturers can be reasonably certain their AVs will be safe, this deterrent effect may enhance public safety. But to the extent that liability concerns are deterring manufacturers from introducing AVs that are safer than human-driven vehicles, the deterrent effect may be harming public safety. A major part of the liability problem is the indeterminacy in liability standards for AVs, and the resulting uncertainties about liability risks. This presentation explains these uncertainties, and the potential role that private consensus standards promulgated by standard setting organizations (e.g., SAE, UL, ISO) can play in providing more certainty in AV product liability.

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