Driverless vehicles will unleash a new industrial revolution – but we must address legal issues first

The legal and ethical implications of driverless vehicles threaten their development, new research from Université Paris-Saclay warns.

The two main issues that self-transport vehicles face are the protection of personal data and responsibility, says Professor Mélanie Clément-Fontaine, expert on the impact of AI and data on intellectual property and digital law.

If smart and autonomous machines have the capacity to be trained and make decisions independently, it requires those involved in the development and commercialisation of self-transport vehicles to build in security and ethics at the outset.

Thereby recognising that they must be prepared to accept legal liability for the quality of the technology they produce.

“Self-transport vehicles are the robots of tomorrow. Now that humankind stands on the threshold of an era when ever more sophisticated robots, bots, androids and other manifestations of AI seem poised to unleash a new industrial revolution – which is likely to leave no stratum of society untouched – it is vitally important for legislature to consider its legal and ethical implications and effects, without stifling innovation,” says Clément-Fontaine.

When the European Union introduced the right to be forgotten earlier this year, the link between the protection of personal data and private life was strengthened. Now the development of driverless vehicles must find its way in today’s increasingly challenging legal landscape.

These findings were published in the French journal Les Objets connectés; “Self-transport vehicles in the eye of the cyclone of reforms in robotics, personnel data and civil liberty”.

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