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Autonomous Vehicle Law

The latest news and analysis surrounding the intersection of the autonomous vehicle industry and the law, from Baker Donelson.

First OEM Level 2 Autonomous Trucks Are Being Deployed

Firm client Covenant Transportation has recently added Level 2 autonomous trucks. The Freightliner Cascadia has electronic steering, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, blind-spot warning, pedestrian warning, collision avoidance, intelligent high beams and active brake assist. The “Detroit Assurance” system in the truck collects, shares and validates safety-related information by tracking up to 40 objects simultaneously up to 660 feet away and reporting information about six vehicles in the truck’s path – their distance, velocity, width, lateral offset, type and confidence level – while the Video Radar Decision Unit (VRDU) refreshes the speed, distance, and time calculations 200 times per second. read more…

Another Alliance Forms in the AV Space

At the ADAS & Autonomous Vehicles USA conference in Detroit on September 25, I spoke about some previously unusual alliances being formed in the car industry to tackle AVs, such as those between Ford and VW, Mercedes and BMW, and several heavy truck manufacturers. And now, we have another one. On September 27, 2019, Japanese carmakers Toyota and Subaru announced a “new business and capital alliance” to develop what they are calling “CASE” (connected, autonomous/automated, shared, and electric) vehicles. The two companies had previously announced a joint venture to develop battery electric vehicles using Subaru’s all-wheel drive technology (which is on all Subaru vehicles) and Toyota’s vehicle electrification technologies. read more…

Preparing for Connected and Automated Vehicles: Testing, Validation and Certification

Tom Brewer, CEO/President of Intelligent Mobility Planning, LLC and long-time expert in automotive matters in Tennessee, offers the below thoughts on the status of vehicle testing. Baker Donelson has been fortunate to work on a project with Mr. Brewer, and we are very impressed with the depth of his knowledge.

As connected and automated vehicle (CAV) technology races toward reality, there is an equal (if not greater) number of issues to address concerning safety, liability, infrastructure and cybersecurity. These issues are beginning to be defined and developed through testing, validation and certification (TV&C) protocols by numerous entities (Academic / Industry / Government Agencies) in the U.S. and worldwide. read more…

The Modern MASS-T Head: The Rise and Reality of Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships

Of modern standers-of-mast-heads we have but a lifeless set; mere stone, iron, and bronze men; who, though well capable of facing out a stiff gale, are still entirely incompetent to the business of singing out upon discovering any strange sight.

MOBY DICK, Chap. XXXV. “THE MAST-HEAD”

While driverless terrestrial vehicles have been a hot topic in the media and the blogosphere (including on this blog) – from Tesla autopilot crashes to self-driving freight trucks – there has been an equally (if not more) anticipated and analyzed trend (some would say nascent revolution) in the less popularly publicized international maritime vessel operations: the rise of autonomous vessel technologies on the world’s oceans, rivers, and harbors. The term of art for these autonomous vessels – “maritime autonomous surface ships,” “MASS” for short – is ironically cognate with the very vessel “MASters” that autonomous technology would stand to replace.

The initial forays into the possibilities of autonomous vessel technologies began (more or less) with Rolls-Royce just into the second decade of the 2000s. Since then the concept has been put to numerous actual proofs by Rolls-Royce and others, and it is safe to say that it is now not a matter of if or even when MASS technology enters the market, but rather the extent to which MASS technology will disrupt traditional global shipping and vessel operations. And while the technical advances have been steadily developing in the hands of engineers, regulators have been attempting to keep pace with the legal ramifications of MASS. read more…

Florida Opens Its Roads to Driverless Vehicles

On June 13, Florida enacted legislation allowing cars without human drivers to begin operating on its roads. While Michigan and Texas also allow cars without human drivers to some degree, Florida has gone one step further, by prohibiting local regulations that differ from state law, essentially making all of Florida’s roads fair game for testing AVs. read more…

Eleven Companies Propose Guiding Principles for Self-Driving Vehicles

On July 2, 2019, 11 companies (Aptiv, Audi, Baidu, BMW, Continental, Daimler, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Here, Infineon, Intel, and Volkswagen) published a 157-page whitepaper (“Safety First For Automated Driving“) describing a framework for the development, testing, and validation of “safe” autonomous vehicles. The whitepaper summarizes the various levels of automated driving with the goal of developing a baseline that might one day become an industry standard. read more…

Senators Markey and Blumenthal Reintroduce Legislation to Protect Against Cybersecurity and Data Privacy Risks in Vehicles

Senator Edward Markey (D-MA) and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), both members of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, reintroduced the Security and Privacy in Your Car (SPY Car) Act last week. The bill aims to protect drivers from cybersecurity and data privacy risks in increasingly computerized motor vehicles. While the prospect for passage in this Congress is highly unlikely, the bill addresses two of the most critical issue areas hindering the enactment of any meaningful autonomous vehicle legislation. read more…