The report and recommendations of the Task Force on Autonomous Vehicles and the Law, which call for reducing burdensome state regulations that limit the testing of automated vehicle technology and developing a consumer education campaign on the capabilities of autonomous vehicles, were adopted by NYSBA’s House of Delegates at its meeting April 4.
“The work done by this task force is tremendously important for our profession,” said Henry M. Greenberg, president of the New York State Bar Association. “This is yet another case of our members addressing cutting-edge issues important to the profession and public. We hope that this report can serve as a resource for policymakers.”
The report cites New York’s climate, terrain and cities with state universities as ideal places for testing to commence. Currently testing on public roads in New York can only be done under the direct supervision of the New York State Police, a burden the task force concludes has resulted in manufacturers electing to test their products in other states.
According to the report, a robust public education campaign developed by New York to avoid an over-reliance on automated vehicle technology would provide consumers with an accurate depiction of the technology. The task force recommends highlighting the benefits automated vehicles will provide for the elderly and disabled, as well as those in rural areas of the state. It also cites how this technology is already being used to deliver food, medicine and health care.
“Autonomous vehicles have the potential to provide significant societal benefits,” said University at Buffalo School of Law Dean Aviva Abramovsky, who chaired the task force. “Increased mobility and independence for elderly and disabled persons are some ways this technology will be used to better people’s lives.”
The task force also found that, at this time, New York can continue to rely upon established laws to govern the driverless vehicles, but that regulations should be changed to better position New York State as an attractive location for autonomous vehicle development and testing.
Over the past year, task force members have met with automotive and technology experts familiar with this highly specialized and rapidly developing area.
The report recommends:
- New York State should position itself as an attractive autonomous vehicle testing location by decreasing regulatory burdens and incentivizing a collaborative relationship between industry, state and research institutes.
- New York should develop public education campaigns so consumers can get an accurate depiction of what autonomous vehicle technology can do, such as increasing mobility for the disabled, elderly and people in rural areas.
- Expertise within New York should be leveraged by emphasizing computer simulation for testing.
- New York can continue to rely upon existing laws as the emerging technology develops or until a situation or case shows a new law needs to be created.
- NYSBA should support legislation (S.6014) sponsored by State Senator Tim Kennedy (D-Buffalo) to establish a task force on automated vehicle technology.