Mbilike Mwafulirwa, ‘The Common Law and the Self-Driving Car’

ABSTRACT
… This paper outlines an analytical blueprint based on longstanding common law rules to address this new driverless phenomenon. This paper considers the common law liability continuum starting with the person in the driver’s seat who engages the self-driving feature, to the owner who uses her self-driving car as a common carrier, to the manufacturer of the vehicle in case of a product defect. Drawing examples from (and analogizing from the common law’s response to) the automated elevator, cruise control, autopilot, runaway and unmanned vehicles, and ships, this paper shows that the common law has longstanding answers to even self-driving cars. This paper also analyzes whether the common law rules that extend legal personality (the right to sue and be sued) to ships, for example, could also apply to another form of conveyance – ie, the self-driving car.

Mwafulirwa, Mbilike M, The Common Law and the Self-Driving Car (November 17, 2021).

First posted 2021-11-30 14:20:24

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