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"Start your Engines: Driverless Vehicles on Wisconsin Roadways" (Wisconsin Lawyer)

April 19, 2019

The following is an excerpt from Wisconsin Lawyer, written by Arthur Harrington. 

Once relegated to science fiction plotlines, autonomous vehicle (AV) technology is increasingly becoming a reality. Waymo, Google’s driverless car division, has clocked in nearly eight million self-driven miles; plans for a Waymo driverless taxi service are on the way. Ford has announced plans to start offering, beginning in 2021, vehicles for ride-hailing, as well as delivery services. General Motors’ self-driving division, GM Cruise, has stated that deployment of autonomous vehicles in major cities is “imminent.” Tesla’s Autopilot offers features such as lane centering, self-parking, and the ability to transition from one freeway to another when the user’s destination is nearby. There are six levels of automation designated by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). See sidebar. Tesla’s Autopilot is classified as between levels 2 and 3.

Federal, state, and local governments, as well as private entities, have begun to critically analyze the emerging paradigm. Given federal developments, the siting in Wisconsin of one of 10 proving grounds for driverless cars and trucks by the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT), and recommendations provided by the recently completed Governor’s Steering Committee on Autonomous and Connected Vehicle Testing and Deployment, Wisconsin lawyers should begin positioning themselves for legal work that will almost certainly develop as a result of this emerging technology.

While it is always a bit speculative to make any predictions, this article offers an overview of federal regulations on AVs, a review of recommendations from the Governor’s Steering Committee, and analysis of several areas for opportunities for Wisconsin lawyers resulting from the emergence of AVs on Wisconsin’s roadways.

The full article includes discussion on the following topics: 

  • Federal Regulation of Autonomous Vehicles
  • Wisconsin Joins AV Development
  • Municipal Lawyers
  • Accident Litigation
  • Roadway-related Technology and Contracts
  • Zoning and Local Use Challenges

Read the full article


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