January 2012

Jan. 20 Conference Explores the Legal Implications of Self-Driving Cars

SANTA CLARA, Calif., Jan. 12, 2012 -- Autonomous (self-driving) cars may seem as futuristic as condos on Mars, but in fact, they are here: Google, BMW and Volkswagen are among those getting attention for their pilot programs; Toyota unveiled an autonomous Prius at the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show; and Nevada recently passed a law allowing autonomous cars on its roads (complete with a special driver’s license endorsement).

But when it comes to legalities of these computerized wonders, questions far outweigh answers. For instance, if an autonomous car causes an accident, who bears legal responsibility --the manufacturer or the person in the “driver seat?” If the driver of a self-driving car is drunk or texting away, will that still be illegal? How will insurance documents be crafted? And what other transportation law will need to be rewritten in order to make room on the road for autonomous cars?

Now, Santa Clara University School of Law is gathering a group of automobile experts and legal scholars to explore this next frontier through a legal lens, at an all-day seminar Jan. 20 entitled The Legal Implications of Autonomous Vehicles. The event will be at the Paul L. Locatelli, S.J., Student Activity Center on SCU’s campus, 500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, California, 95053, from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., including an evening reception.

"This is the first time we've ever had a group of legal minds sit down and think about this," said Dorothy Glancy, a professor of transportation and privacy law at Santa Clara University School of Law. "Without legal acceptance, we are not going to have autonomous cars."

Tickets are free for students and $120 for the general public. CLE credit for lawyers is $30 for non-alumni.

The event, sponsored by the Santa Clara Law Review and Santa Clara University School of Law's High Tech Law Institute, will feature dozens of speakers and panelists from government, academia and law firms. They will share publications, give presentations and take questions in what promises to be a lively day of exploration and debate.

Speakers will include:

*Bryant Walker Smith, Stanford School of Law’s Center for Automotive Research (CARS) and Stanford University’s Center for Internet and Society (CIS)

*Dr. Sven A. Beiker, executive director, Stanford CARS

*Frank Douma, Hubert Humphrey School of Public Affairs and Center for Transportation Studies, University of Minnesota

*Dorothy J. Glancy, professor of privacy and transportation law, Santa Clara University School of Law

*Robert B. Kelly & Mark D. Johnson, Squire Sanders and Dempsey Communications Practice Group, Washington, D.C.

*Gary E. Marchant, Arizona State University Law School professor of emerging technologies, law and ethics.

*Robert Peterson, insurance law professor at Santa Clara University School of Law

*O. Kevin Vincent, chief counsel of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

 *Steve Wood, assistant chief counsel for vehicle rulemaking and harmonization, Office of the Chief Counsel, National Highway Transportation & Safety Administration

For more event details see http://lawreview.scu.edu/page.cfm/events

Deborah Lohse | SCU Media Relations | dlohse@scu.edu | 408-554-5121


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