Conference to explore legal issues of driverless cars

By Lori Atherton
U-M Law

A conference exploring the legal and regulatory implications of driverless cars and featuring attorneys from Tesla, Ford, and Google is being hosted by Universigty of Michigan Law School this week.

“Autonomous Vehicles: Legal and Regulatory Hurdles to Deployment,” set for Friday, April 15, will bring together industry, government, and academic experts to examine these issues from a variety of perspectives, including original equipment manufacturers; technology suppliers; insurance providers; federal, state, and local governments; and emerging entrepreneurial ventures.

Panel presentations will focus on fo?ur topics: State and Federal Regulation of Autonomous Vehicles, Issues Arising from New Industry Coordination and Technology Integration, New Models and Risks for Tort Liability Concerning Autonomous Vehicles, and Subsidizing Innovative Networks.

“We are seeing rapid changes in mobility due to the development of autonomous and connected vehicles. These new technologies raise regulatory and liability questions that will impact which business models prevail and how soon we experience the resulting societal benefits, such as improved safety, reduced fuel consumption, better access to mobility, and increased productivity,” said Bryce Pilz, ‘00, a clinical assistant professor of law in the Entrepreneurship Clinic and a conference organizer. “The widespread use of autonomous vehicles might be available faster than anyone thought, so the laws need to be sorted out quickly.”

Pilz, along with conference participants Daniel Crane, associate dean for faculty and research and the Frederick Paul Furth Sr. Professor of Law, and Kyle D. Logue, the Wade H. and Dores M. McCree Collegiate Professor Law, are collaborating on a project that surveys the legal and regulatory issues related to driverless cars, including liability, insurance, and cybersecurity implications. Their research, funded by a grant from the University of Michigan’s Mobility Transformation Center, will be presented during the conference.

Other speakers include Kate Browne, senior vice president at Swiss Re; Eric Williams, senior regulatory counsel at Tesla Motors Inc.; Emily Frascaroli, counsel at Ford Motor Company and a Michigan Law lecturer who is teaching one of the country’s first classes about the legal issues involved with driverless cars; Tim Johnson, director of vehicle crash avoidance and electronic controls research at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; Kirk Steudle, director of the Michigan Department of Transportation; Thomas Lue, corporate counsel at Google; Jennifer A. Dukarski, associate at Butzel Long; Chan D. Lieu, senior legislative advisor at Vennable LLP; and Richard A. Walawender, ‘86, principal and co-leader of the Corporate Group at Miller, Canfield, Paddock, and Stone PLC.

The conference will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Honigman Auditorium, Hutchins Hall 100. A reception will follow in the Lawyers Club Lounge, 551 S. State Street. Registration is $149 per person. For more information and to register, visit the conference website at