Pagliarini world as one of the greatest and

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Chris Pagliarini
Professor Rosero
Pols 4350-01
Autonomous Vehicle Policy Analysis
Since the first automobile was patented in 1886 by Karl Benz they have rapidly expanded
through the 20th century into the modern world as one of the greatest and most utilized
inventions known to man. Automobiles quickly became the most accessible form of
transportation over the last century with their improved technology and safety. In recent years
the automotive world has turned its focus towards a new breed of travel, one without a driver. In
2010 Google announced that its employees had been developing and testing systems for
autonomous vehicles which quickly sparked a competition among automotive manufacturers and
innovators to become the first company with a fully operational autonomous vehicle. As of 2018
there are a handful of manufacturers leading the innovation towards autonomous vehicle
creation. The automotive giants like general motors, Ford Motor Company, Volkswagen,
Chrysler, Nissan, BMW, Volvo, Tesla, and many others have made significant steps towards the
futuristic dream of an autonomous vehicle. As the technology grows and becomes more
sophisticated, there is a growing concern for the government policy and regulations regarding
this new breed of vehicle.
These vehicles before being implemented will need to prove to regulators and the
technology community that they are feasible and more importantly that they are safe. The
problem is not that the vehicles have the potential to limit traffic accidents, because that is
certain, but whether automatous vehicles or AV’s are able to integrate into human traffic without

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any human responsibility for their operation. Autonomous vehicles will change the way people
travel, and its unsure how exactly this will affect traffic regulations and laws. The laws will need
to be modified to accommodate this new emerging area of technology. Along with integrating
AV’s into society, who will be held accountable in the event of an accident, the manufacturer or
the driver? The world of autonomous vehicles is currently surrounded by questions from the
hundreds of stakeholders within it about the feasibility and responsibility of this product. With
questions on the rise, the world of AV’s rapidly became entangled with political controversy, and
regulatory challenges that are necessary to determine the safest and best possible ways to bring
this futuristic technology from an idea to a reality.
With an estimated 1.3 billion personal and commercial automobiles in use as of 2015, the
scale of stakeholders involved in the autonomous movement is unimaginable (OICA).
Autonomous travel will affect all areas of the world and it’s important to identify to key
stakeholders which will ultimately determine how AV’s are developed and integrated. The three
most important stakeholders that will influence and direct the development of AV technology
consist of government policymakers and planners, consumers, and manufacturers.
Policymakers will have the greatest influence in determine the rules and responsibilities
for AV’s. The regulations will be driven at the federal, state, and local levels. On a national
scale, two primary agencies need to be considered: The National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration (NHTSA) and the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) (Brett
et al. 11). Due to the nature of AV’s, the traffic laws and regulations will need to be entirely
reformed which is influenced at the federal level because “policymakers and planners…finance
major infrastructure projects and manage the nation’s highways, bridges, and tunnels through
federal tax dollars” (Brett et al. 11). The federal agencies will need to adapt and understand what

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exactly AV’s are and their capabilities before financing major projects to accommodate
autonomous travel. When discussing the topic of safety, the federal regulators will also be tasked
with modifying the national safety standards and is challenged to adapt the existing federal motor
vehicle safety standards (FMVSS) (Brett et al. 12). The FMVSS standards are currently revolved
around a driver which causes complications when considering a vehicle with no human
interaction. It’s important for downstream stakeholders like consumers and innovators to be
provided a consistent policy framework at the federal level to allow for complication free
development, implication, and operation. The Federal government’s main role to influence AV’s
is through funding, and research while their cooperation with other stakeholders is crucial for the
success of this technology (Brett et al. 12).
At the state level, governments will need to cooperate with federal regulations and
development state regulations to further accommodate AV transportation. States are responsible
for regulating transportation through driving laws and inspection requirements. The state funding
for infrastructure development is generated through tolls and taxes which will directly affect
consumers due to the scale of development needed (Brett et al. 14). In addition to regulating
driving laws, each state government is responsible for their own Department of Transportation
and will be responsible for constructing and maintain roads which AV’s will be travelling on.
The most important role of state governments is to cooperate with neighboring states to develop
consistent laws. Googles technical leader, Chris Urmson, highlighted that “if every state is left to
go its own way without a unified approach, operating self-driving cars across state boundaries
would be unworkable and one that will significantly hinder safety innovation, interstate
commerce, national competitiveness, and the eventual deployment of AV’s” (Bomey).

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At the local government level governments will be responsible for understanding the
costs and benefits of AV technology on communities. Responsibilities of local government
include but are not limited to: “right of way management, parking policy, and congestion
pricing” (Brett et al. 15). Ultimately local governments will play a role in “creating a network of
regulations… using their demographics, geographies, and transit behaviors…that address the
spectrum of local costs and benefits AV technology in transportation” (Brett et al. 15).
In addition to policymakers, consumers are a major stakeholder in AV’s since after all,
they are the ones using the vehicles. It’s expected that consumers will have a dramatic increase
in access to automotive transportation, which will provide mobility and benefits for not only
people who are able to drive, but everyone from children to the mentally disabled” (Brett et al.
16). The increased mobility will be driven by key stakeholders in the ride sharing industry like
Uber, and Lyft by bringing vehicles to those who don’t own one. Although the accessibility to
vehicles will increase, consumers will be faced with large increases in the value of vehicles. Due
to increased technology and development costs of AV’s, companies will need to charge much
higher prices while the technology is new. Overtime the cost is expected to decrease but at an
early age, the high cost of AV’s is expected to limit the amount of people who are financially
capable of owing one (Brett et al. 17). Along with increased mobility and cost, the biggest
dilemma for consumers is trust. A study conducted by AAA suggests that Americans are hesitant
to put faith in AV’s which will lead to a period in which the roads are congested with manual
and automated operating vehicles, which could potentially lead to safety concerns. The study
states that roughly 75% of drivers would be afraid to let an AV drive itself (AAA Newsroom).
It’s understood that public trust will affect the growth and development of AV’s across the globe.

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The third major stakeholder is manufacturers which is comprised of automakers and
innovators. The automakers are the ones making the vehicles and are currently investing large
sums of money into AV’s to drive the technology forward. AV’s are considered to “be a
potential threat to existing distribution models and creates new potential competitors for
traditional manufacturers.” (Brett et al. 20). Car manufacturers will need to re-think there go to
market strategies due to the increased cost of development and competition from private
innovators like Google, Apple, and Tesla. Private innovators are a threat because they have the
financial capital to develop key components like sensors that are needed to build autonomous
vehicles. These innovators see an open market full of benefits through the development of
technologies that traditional automakers need. The innovators become a stakeholder because they
hold patents and licensing abilities for the AV technology. Brett explains that to facilitate the
development of AV’s, manufacturing stakeholders will need to “cooperate in order to advocate
for policy reforms…for safety, liability and cost reductions” (Brett et al. 22). With the massive
scale of automotive vehicles the stakeholders are endless and nationwide cooperation is required
to make AV’s a true reality.
In recent years autonomous vehicle technology has increased, and respectively political
controversy has been increasing as well. Since AV’s are quit new policymakers have yet been
able to make significant progress towards creating regulations for the mass production of AV’s.
Once mass production begins, thousands of autonomous vehicles will take the roadways.
Currently, the only fully autonomous vehicles on the road are test vehicles and contain a backup
driver. The current controversy is revolved around defining what exactly an autonomous vehicle
is and how it will impact transportation safety, cost, mobility, and traffic congestion. In addition,
policy makers face the challenge of determining what kind of AV’s should be allowed and who

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is liable for accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines
AV’s through a six-part system from level 0, which contains no automation, to level 5, which is a
vehicle that performs all driving functions (lynberg). The problem that arises is that with six
different levels of automation, there is no clear way of defining a universal policy for all AV’s.
Each level of AV will require a different set of regulations. Current regulations have mainly been
focused on levels 3-5 and exclude systems like driver assist. At level 5, with full automation the
benefits among safety, economy, efficiency, and mobility are certain but implementing AV’s
into traffic with human drivers is a dangerous task. Autonomous vehicles will always follow
traffic laws and regulations, but human driver may not, putting everyone at risk of an accident.
Given the high stakes there’s controversy about the testing required for AV’s and how safe they
should be before entering the market place.
In addition to the danger of human and automation interaction, there’s controversy over
the technology and infrastructure needed for AV’s. James Anderson states that “vehicles can use
a combination of GPS and INS…but challenges remain because these systems can be
somewhat inaccurate in certain conditions” (xix). With uncertainty about certain conditions the
vehicles may malfunction causing an accident. Also, the mass production and funding of
infrastructure to control AV’s is undetermined. AV’s will require large amounts of
telecommunication equipment to be developed to maintain vehicle to vehicle communication. If
this digital communication was to fail or be subjected to a cyber-attack, then the lives of drivers
could be put at serious risk. The uncertainty of performance of the vehicles increases the
liability implications. Ultimately, when perfected AV’s will bring about lower insurance costs
due to the decrease in crashes. Anderson believe that with lower insurance costs, “manufacturers
product liability may increase” (xxiii). In the event of an accident its undetermined who will be

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liable, the driver or manufacturer? The uncertainty revolved around the safety and liability of
AV’s can only be determined through on road testing. In the event of accidents during testing,
public trust in the technology may decrease which could further separate the technology form
becoming a reality.
The current nature of policy surround autonomous vehicle is relatively new. The
technology is growing rapidly, and policy makers are gaining traction by providing laws and
legislation at the federal and state levels. Anderson states that current “legislation was necessary
to permit testing or even operation of a driverless vehicle, existing law permits the use of
driverless cars (41). The legislations “define Av’s as vehicles with the capability to self-drive
without being actively controlled or monitored by a human operator” (Anderson, 41). On the
federal level, the National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration has released
federal guidelines for automated driving systems (ADS). The guidelines focus of levels 3-5 of
automation and defines that “entities do not need to wait to test or deploy their ADS, revises
design elements from the safety self-assessment, aligns federal guidance with the latest
developments and terminology, and clarifies the role of federal and state governments” (ncsl).
The guidance additionally “attempts to provide best practices for legislatures, incorporating
common safety-related components and elements regarding ADS that states should consider
incorporating into legislation. Additionally, it includes DOTs view of federal and state roles and
provides best practices for state legislatures and best practices for highway safety officials”
(ncsl). The federal government has taken proper action to provide its state and local stakeholders
with the proper guidance and legislation for further development and implementation of AV’s.
Other related federal legislation consists of The SELF Drive Act (H.R. 3388) and the American
Vision for safer Transportation Through Advancement of Revolutionary Technologies (AV

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START) Act (ncsl). Both legislations aim to make changes to federal law regarding autonomous
vehicles and the updates required to federal motor vehicle safety standards. In addition, as of
January 2016, the department of US transportation announced a “commitment of nearly 4 billion
over the next 10 years to accelerate the development and adoption of safe vehicle automation.
The new policy is designed to facilitate and encourage the development and deployment of
technologies with the potential to save lives” (ncsl). With the support and funding of federal
stakeholders, AV’s are going to continue to develop and the public trust will increase knowing
that the vehicles are indeed being observed and regulated.
On the state level, Nevada was the first state to propose legislature allowing the operation
of autonomous vehicles. Currently the National Conference of State legislatures recorded that in
2017, 33 states had introduced legislation regarding AV’s. The amount of states involved is
rapidly growing considering in 2016 only 20 states had introduced legislation. Currently, twenty
nice states have enacted legislation and governments in 10 states have issued executive orders
related to autonomous vehicles (ncsl). Among the state legislation there are similarities and
differences. One notable similarity is that “all of the enacted measures and implementing
regulations similarly define AV’s as vehicles with the capability to self-drive without being
actively controlled or monitored by a human operator” (Anderson, 41). State legislature has been
unified in focusing regulations on level five of automation which strengthens the legitimacy of
the policies. Most state legislature has been written with the intent of testing, development, and
promotion of self-driving technologies among public road systems. The legislations begin to
vary in terms of liability laws. Some states like “Florida, Nevada, and Washington D.C provide
liability protection for original equipment manufacturers whose vehicles are converted to
autonomous controls” (Anderson, 43). These states declared that manufacturers are not liable to

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damages if their vehicles have been converted by a third party. For example, if Google uses a
Ford vehicle to test their AV capabilities, the manufacturer is not liable for any damages. On the
other hand, states like “Colorado, retains liability for damages with the driver who may or may
not use autonomous guidance technology while other states such as Hawaii, absolve
manufacturers of liability where a car has been retrofitted by a third party…where there is no
verifiable recklessness identified” (Anderson, 44). Overall, the manufacturer of the vehicle,
unless they have installed autonomous technology themselves, are not liable for any damages in
the event of an accident. The liability is either placed on the driver of the vehicle or the third
party which installed the technology. The conflicting state laws could place strain on the
deployment of AV’s. The non-uniformity places strain on the manufacturing stakeholders among
the US market because they will have to meet different sets of standards for vehicles sold in
different states. Anderson explains that “Inconsistent state laws might increase costs and hinder
the use of this technology in a way that harms social welfare for little apparent gain” (53). With
autonomous testing miles increasing at a rapid rate the inconsistency will need to be unified to
facilitate industry growth and limit regulatory challenges.
Since the birth of autonomous vehicle technology, legislators have worked to determine
the safety and methods for how to implement them into society. With the federal and state
stakeholders taking part in creating regulations, the foundation has been set for AV’s to move
forward but many things remain vulnerable to challenges. The regulatory challenges for the AV
industry can be analyzed using the four key regulatory challenges laid out in Roger Brownsword
; Morag Goodwin’s book: Law and the Technologies of the Twenty-First Century: Text and

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The first key regulatory challenge is prudence and precaution. Brownsword and Goodwin
explain that prudence and precaution should be taken when addressing topics like health and
safety when there is some uncertainty about how risky the technology is. When considering AV
technology most federal and state legislators have exercised a prudent approach by allowing
manufacturers and third parties to test AV systems on public roads. Legal stakeholders are acting
in the best interest of society because the prescribed benefits of AV’s are substantial. Although
prudent precaution has been executed allowing the technology to flourish, moving forward
precaution will be needed to determine regulations for the mass production of AV’s and there
impact on populated roadways. Long term challenges that will need to exercise precaution
include autonomous to manual vehicle interaction, infrastructure development, efficiency
standards, and most importantly safety standards.
The second key regulatory challenge is regulatory legitimacy which outlines whether the
regulations placed in effect exercise the correct procedures, legal power, ethical standards and
means to enforce. AV’s from a legal aspect will require a more complex thinking since the
vehicle is making decisions acting on behalf of a human with life or death consequences. The
laws and regulations must consider that autonomous vehicle policy will vary greatly from
traditional vehicle regulations. Beiker A. Sven in Legal Aspects of Autonomous driving outlines
the necessary legal action needed for autonomous vehicles to integrate in society. Beiker states
“it is unclear how courts, regulators and the public will react to accidents involving robotic cars.
Overreaction is a clear danger; even could it be shown that a transition to autonomous vehicles
lead to far fewer traffic related deaths” (1152). She explains that it is crucial for regulators to
create a clear and concise policy to maintain the legitimacy of regulations in the case of an
accident. At the federal level, laws currently have been consistent and objective toward AV

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technology, but at the state level the inconsistency is causing problems for manufacturers and
regulators. To further unify the nation to promote and develop this technology states will need to
unify regulations to increase their legitimacy. Beiker describes that due to the interdisciplinary
nature of AV’s, regulators are required to “research in a variety of aspects to establish policies
and a common understanding of benefits, identity and address challenges, and educate future
experts in the field” (1153). The legitimacy of policies will require a vast amount of knowledge
compiled together to create regulations that outline the benefits for society and the potential
challenges that may be faced ahead. Without proper guidelines the technology may grow too
rapidly, causing key safety and economic factors to potentially be overlooked.
The third key regulatory challenges laid out by Brownsword and Goodwin is regulatory
effectiveness. Regulatory effectiveness covers the guidelines for determining whether the
regulation delivers its intended effects along with if the regulation is economical and efficient.
When regulating a new technology, it must be effective to ensure the technology can flourish
while maintaining safety and economical standards. For AV regulation, the most important
aspect to ensure effective regulation is to determine whether the regulating stakeholders have the
proper capabilities and competence. The scientific community must convey information clearly
and outline the benefits and hazards to allow the regulating bodies to make clear and concise
regulations. Brownword and Goodwin describe that “regulates (scientific community) need to
know where they stand. Where the resources available to regulators are inadequate, they might
act on poor policy advice” (61). By providing clear information to regulating bodies, it will
strengthen the regulators integrity in defining clearly articulated rules that are not over complex.
A regulator will create policies according to the knowledge at hand; the greater the knowledge
the better outcome for society. The current AV legislation at the federal level has done a good

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job of doing this. Federal regulators have received in depth reports from manufacturers and
innovators that enabled the NHTSA to objectively define an AV, and offer guidance to state
legislature to correctly define policies. At the state level, manufacturers have failed to convey
their concerns to regulators and as a direct cause are now being exposed to confusing and
inconsistent policy which is slowing down development and production of AV’s. In economic
terms, its crucial for regulators to promote the technology and competition among innovators.
With the number of states proposing legislature on the rise it promotes companies across the
nation to develop new methods for designing AV’s. Competition in technology increases funding
and has potential to spark economic growth.
The fourth regulatory challenge that is crucial to the success of policies is regulatory
connection which states that as technology evolves, regulators must ensure that their regulation
continues to make sense. Regulatory connection relies on determining a balance between being
overly-specific and overly-vague. Regulatory bodies must understand that too little governing
can lead to excessive unknown health and safety risks undermining public confidence, while too
much can limit development and preclude potential health and economic benefits. One element
that will cause significant challenge for regulators is the rapid growth of AV’s. The regulatory
environment and technology of AV’s is changing on a yearly basis and the scientific community
must continue to inform regulators of the changes being made. The NHTSA, ensured connection
by defining AV’s on a zero-five scale. Each level clearly defines the amount of human
interaction with zero being fully manual and 5 being full autonomous. This allowed regulators to
define clear rules for each level of automation. To ensure the regulations stay connected,
manufacturers and innovator will need to supply regulators with details pertaining to the level of
autonomy in their vehicles. Brownsword and Goodwin explain that it’s important for regulators

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to become connected with technology early in its growth to minimize any negative effects (54).
With AV technology primarily becoming popular in 2010, regulators are on the right path
considering federal legislation, 29 state enacted legislations, and 10 state executive orders have
come into effect in only eight years. Regulators acted adequately throughout the early stages to
allow the technologies to be tested and ensure the public would see limited negative effects. To
prevent any form of disconnection with the technology, regulators must stay up to date with the
terms, benefits, and hazards of AV’s. If a disconnection occurs, then the technology may cause
significant harm to society and reduce public trust which in turn will decrease funding bringing
AV technology to a halt.
Over the past eight years autonomous vehicle technology has been the next technology
that has the potential to change the world as we know it. The technology is growing at a rapid
pace and is expected to be fully function in years to come. AV’s are facing significant challenges
in determining the potential effects to society, and most importantly the correct way to integrate
the technology with minimal negative effects. Before AV’s can become a reality, two crucial
problems need to be discussed and regulators need to form concise policies to maintain
standards. The first is how to integrate AV’s into society and ensure the safety of drivers. In the
early stages, traffic will consist of manual and automated operated vehicles. Ensuring that the
AV’s will be able to react properly and not disrupt current traffic laws is vital to the success of
the technology. Second, regulators must determine who is liable for AV’s in the event of an
accident. AV’s are predicted to greatly reduce the number of accident but inevitably accidents
will happen. The current policy surrounding AV’s has taken the proper steps to allow the
technology to progress while maintain the safety of society. With federal regulators defining
AV’s and offering guidance to state regulators there has been an overall nationwide cooperation

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to promote and support the technology. Moving forward more concise and objective state
legislature will be needed to ensure manufacturers and innovators are not confined by the
regulations. The current policy has been sufficient in protecting society throughout the testing
phases of AV’s. but as the technology approaches the mass production; further regulations will
be needed to maintain a regulatory connection. Autonomous vehicles have great potential,
pending if the scientific community and regulators maintain cooperation and work together to
make this technology a reality.

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Works Cited

Anderson, James M., et al. Autonomous Vehicle Technology: a Guide for Policymakers. Rand
Corporation, 2016.
“Autonomous Vehicles-Self Driving Vehicles Enacted Legislation.”, National
Conference of State Legislatures, 25 June 2018,
Bomey, Nathan. “Self-Driving Car Leaders Ask for National Laws.” USA Today. Gannett, 15
Mar. 2016. Web. 04 May 2016.
Brett, Jacob A., et al. “Thinking Local about Self-Driving Cars: a Local Framework for
Autonomous Vehicle Development in the United States.” University of Washington, University
of Washington, 2016.
“Fact Sheet: Vehicle Technology Survey.” AAA Newsroom. AAA Automotive Engineering,
2016. Web. 4 May 2016.
“Four Key Regulatory Challenges.” Law and the Technologies of the Twenty-First Century: Text
and Materials, by Roger Brownsword and Morag Goodwin, Cambridge University Press, 2012,
pp. 46–71.
Kalra, Nidhi, and Susan M. Paddock. “Driving to Safety: How Many Miles of Driving Would It
Take to Demonstrate Autonomous Vehicle Reliability?” Transportation Research Part A: Policy
and Practice, vol. 94, 2016, pp. 182–193., doi:10.1016/j.tra.2016.09.010.
Litman, Todd. Autonomous Vehicle Implementation Predictions. Victoria Transport Policy
Institute, 2018
Lynberg, Matthew. “Automated Vehicles for Safety.” NHTSA, NHTSA, 13 Apr. 2018,
Schreurs, Miranda A., and Sibyl D. Steuwer. “Autonomous Driving—Political, Legal, Social,
and Sustainability Dimensions.” Autonomous Driving, 2016, pp. 149–171., doi:10.1007/978-3-
Sven A. Beiker, Symposium, Legal Aspects of Autonomous Driving, 52 Santa Clara L. Rev. 1145
“Vehicles in Use.” OICA, International Organization Of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers, 2015,


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