Legal Concerns the Biggest Hurdle for Driverless Cars

As to pretty much everything, these days


STANFORD, Calif.–Self-driving cars are going to save lives: a vehicle driven by a human will experience, on average, a crash every 160,000 miles or so. It's only a matter of time before robots become better drivers than us.

That is, if the lawyers let them. Industry insiders are already fretting about a host of legal problems that could bedevil robot car makers once a sufficient number of their creations take to the roads. Product liability, tort law, negligence, foreseeable harm, patent encumbrance, and design defects are only some of the concerns.

"The longer it takes for this technology to reach the market, the more people die," Josh Blackman, a law professor at the South Texas College of Law, said yesterday at a conference hosted by Stanford University called "We Robot: Getting Down to Business."