Regulatory landscape for autonomous driving in the US

Gail Gottehrer, Law Office of Gail Gottehrer LLC.

We caught up with Gail Gottehrer from the Law Office of Gail Gottehrer LLC. She forms part of a panel discussing “Regulatory landscape for autonomous driving and testing in the US” on day two of the AutoSens conference agenda in Detroit 2019. Gail delves into areas of law which are facing the most regulatory challenges, and those which most need to catch up to the technology. She also offers advice for women in STEM who are also setting their sights high and highlights a trend in the industry she keeping a watchful eye on.

You recently started your own law firm; what prompted you to do this?

Technology law has been part of my practice throughout my career.  Given the increased public and regulatory scrutiny of technology, including autonomous vehicles, artificial intelligence, and data collection practices, this was the right time for me to focus my practice on the wide range of legal issues related to emerging technologies.

Your practice focuses on technology-related litigation and counseling, including autonomous vehicle regulation, connected vehicle regulation, data privacy, biometrics, cybersecurity, facial recognition, smart cities, and the IoT, which areas do you think are facing the most regulatory challenges, and in which do you think the regulations most need to catch up to the technology?

We’re seeing a number of states passing laws governing the collection, retention, and use of sensitive personal data by businesses including bio-metric data, geolocation data, and personal data that employees are required to provide to their employers.  There have been efforts to pass a federal law applicable to autonomous vehicles, and Congress is considering the creation of a federal data privacy law that could preempt state data privacy laws.  As autonomous vehicle technology continues to improve, and we get closer to seeing Level 4 and Level 5 cars becoming available, motor vehicle codes and traffic laws will need to be revised to account for the fact that technology, rather than people, will be operating vehicles, and to reflect the ways in which autonomous vehicles will navigate the roads.

You were selected as one the Profiles in Diversity Journal’s 2017 Women Worth Watching in STEM and one of the Connecticut Technology Council’s 2016 Women of Innovation. Do you have any advice for other women in STEM who are also setting their sights high? What can the industry do to help Women in Engineering?

My advice for women is to take control of their careers by having confidence in themselves and not getting discouraged by setbacks they encounter along the way.  STEM is filled with possibilities, and women need to make sure that they don’t put limits on what they believe they can accomplish.

The industry can help Women in Engineering through sponsorship.  Specifically, by providing opportunities for women to interact with decision-makers and other influential people in the industry, who will invite them to industry events and introduce them to people who can advance their careers.  It’s also crucial that industry leaders ensure that women who are working in the industry have the tools and support they need to get promoted to senior management and leadership positions, and get those promotions.

What’s your take on self-driving cars driving successfully on the road this year? In any case, who do you think is the one to watch and is leading the way in creating an autonomous vehicle?

This year, I expect we’ll see an increase in autonomous vehicles being used in private communities and on private roads.  I’m not optimistic about the chances of seeing a significant number of highly automated vehicles on public roads this year.

A trend I’m watching is the creation of partnerships between automakers, and between automakers and sensor manufacturers, AI designers and mapping companies, to work together to expedite the development of autonomous vehicles.

What are you looking forward to about joining us at AutoSens?

In addition to looking forward to meeting the other speakers and thought leaders who will be attending AutoSens, I’m particularly interested in the presentations about human machine collaboration, transfer of control, and human behavior prediction.  These are key factors in the analysis of liability issues for Level 3 vehicles, because in order to determine whether an individual or the technology was operating the vehicle at the time of an accident and should be held responsible for the consequences, we will have to address questions such as whether the individual had a “reasonable” amount of time to take over control of the vehicle, whether what is reasonable varies depending on the age or abilities of the individual, and whether the individual unreasonably relied on the technology.  The factors that play into this liability analysis are among the reasons why some companies have decided to skip over Level 3 and focus on developing Level 4 vehicles instead.

Come and hear Gail at AutoSens in Detroit. She will be part of a panel discussing Regulatory landscape for autonomous driving and testing in the US

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