Thomas P. Branigan: Autonomous regulations are needed now


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. Thomas P. Branigan, managing partner at Bowman and Brooke, 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?

I think federal safety standards from the National Highway Traffic Safety (NHTSA) Administration are needed now. Otherwise, the industry and the people of this country will face a variety of conflicting and confusing laws and rules written by various states that probably do not have the resources or expertise to regulate these safety issues.

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?

Yes but under controlled conditions (e.g., early morning hours and late at night) that minimize the risks to other motorist that may be caused by this testing.

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

Resources (financial and human expertise) and direction at NHTSA is a short term obstacle. The new executive administration in Washington has yet to address those issues but I believe this administration will or already has recognized the importance of autonomous driving tech innovations to job growth and capital development in the U.S. and, thus, I see this as a short term obstacle that will be resolved.

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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).