Even when Self Driving cars are here, they need to be legal

Read in 

A quick review of full self driving cars and getting them made legal. My focus in on Victoria, Australia, but assume all countries and states will have similar issues.

Written due to someTweets and thought I'd write this down for my future reference and to explain in a little more detail my point of view.

I'm all for self driving cars, but I think the laws/policies/etc. will be a hindrance when ready. As well as jobs, union movements and job protection will also be a concern.

Quoting some sections solely from the Parliament of Victoria research paper 'Autonomous vehicles' published December 2017 (direct PDF download).

Public acceptance of self driving technology
Chart 5. Willingness to use automated vehicle technology

So we can see a huge amount of people who are not willing to use self driving cars, which you'd expect translates into not having them on the road. The high acceptance is the 18-24 year old age bracket, who really aren't the ones that influence policy.

I'd predict we'd have a huge vocal minority pushing conspiracy theories like we currently have with the 5G rollout.

Job losses

You can sure as hell bet that there will be a massive push against self driving vehicles from employment groups that will suffer job losses (ride share, taxi, trucks, couriers, etc.). These groups, associations, unions and whatnot have strong lobbying powers.

Though I would not expect this to stop the roll out in the long term, like with factory automation and whatnot, it will in the short term in delaying laws getting passed to allow self driving cars.

New jobs seem unlikely in Australia due to roll out of self driving cars, with the report noting "..new roles in supplying, maintaining and operating automated vehicles, or other roles that use automated vehicles as a platform to deliver new kinds of services to the market". So - mechanics still have work (albeit less due to increase in EV) and some unknown industry due to self driving -- not great for people currently employed to drive.

Product liability and insurance in Australia

Many areas to work through to get self driving cars legal:

  • changes to driver responsibility and liability;
  • manufacturer responsibility for automated vehicle accidents;
  • the possibility of new stakeholders becoming responsible for automated vehicle accidents;
  • new risks associated with automated vehicle usage, particularly regarding malicious usage of automated vehicles; and
  • new sources of liability for manufacturers, particularly third party losses caused by defects in automated vehicles.
Acts and regulations impacted in Victoria alone

In Victoria, there are 7 pieces directly impacted by self driving vehicles. Let alone likely other legal and criminal codes.

  • Road Safety Act 1986
  • Transport (Compliance and Miscellaneous) Act 1983
  • EastLink Project Act 2004
  • Melbourne City Link Act 1995
  • Crimes Act 1958 – culpable driving or dangerous driving causing death
  • Transport (Compliance and Miscellaneous) (Conduct of Public Transport) Regulations 2015
  • Transport (Buses, Taxi-Cabs and Other Commercial Passenger Vehicles) Regulations 2005

I'd love a self driving car. It will be safer. It will be more convenient.

But our society isn't currently geared towards self driving cars, so a lot of policy and legal issues will need to be resolved, which will be countered by people who oppose self driving cars.

I see the technology being here before we are close to being ready legally.