Autonomous expert opinion: Jennifer Dukarski


The Autonomous Vehicle Safety Regulation World Congress, taking place from October 23-24, 2017, the US city of Novi, Michigan, will be the focal point for experts to consider the challenges and implications to the creation of autonomous vehicle regulations. Jennifer Dukarski, shareholder at Butzel Long, will be speaking at the event and considers some of the implications around autonomous vehicle regulations.

When should federal regulations for autonomous vehicles be introduced?

The sooner, the better. In the absence of federal regulations, states are acting to fill the vacuum. This patchwork of rules, regulations and laws run the risk of establishing design and technology winners and losers while making it difficult to assure compliance for a vehicle driving across the country. To preserve tech-agnostic solutions that maximize safety and security on a national level, federal regulations are a must.

Several companies are pursuing a design of an autonomous vehicle without a steering wheel, should testing of such vehicles on public highways be allowed in all states now?

In the testing realm, it’s important to assure the diversity of test conditions including roads, traffic flow and climate. Supporting testing in more states can help achieve this while promoting the technology among consumers who may see the vehicles during on-road tests. Despite this, testing requires significant monitoring and investment by the manufacturers and suppliers and each state’s testing regulations should reflect those needs. As long as a state has the proper enabling legislation and regulation to make testing successful, these vehicles should be allowed access today.

What is the main obstacle impeding the creation of autonomous vehicle legislation?

Advancing an autonomous agenda should have bi-partisan support given its life-saving potential, its ability to advance mobility for the elderly and disabled, and potential for job growth in technology. With the efforts emerging in both the House and Senate, drafted by teams of highly sophisticated legislative aides and staffers, the largest obstacle appears to be the current log-jam in Congress over partisan and divisive issues, such as healthcare reform and tax reform.

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About Author


Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).