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Google Self Driving Cars Now Have Legal Counsel

On Behalf of | Aug 2, 2016 | Self Driving Cars

It is drawing headlines and as a personal injury lawyer, I think it is about time. Google has hired their own general counsel for their self-driving car business. They hired Kevin Vosen, the chief legal officer of The Climate Corporation to fill the position.

The hiring comes at an important time for Google, which wants to market self-driving cars by 2020. The project already has a CEO and a director. Now, they have a general counsel which they have needed to fill.

Self-driving cars that still look and feel like traditional vehicles face relatively few regulatory and legal barriers.

But companies like Google that envision a self-driving car without a steering wheel or foot pedals face significant restraints, according to a preliminary report released in March by the U.S. Department of Transportation. The federal government has not been prepared to regulate or certify Google’s self-driving prototype-nor any other conceptual vehicle that isn’t equipped with standard manual controls.

Google just shared its self-driving car tech with an automaker:

That’s about to change. This month, the Department of Transportation is expected to issue operational guidelines for how automated vehicle technology should be tested and regulated, as well as a model policy for states to help end the mishmash of rules that threaten to slow down the development of self-driving cars. The DOT and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have been working on the guidelines since January.

A patchwork of rules has already developed in states such as California, where numerous companies-including Daimler and Google-are testing self-driving car technology on public roads. In December 2015, California’s Department of Motor Vehicles issued draft rules in an effort to address the thorny questions involving autonomous vehicles around licensing, registration, certification, and safety-as well as cyber security and privacy. The draft rules include strict limits on the emerging technology, a position Google has said will place a ceiling on the potential for fully self-driving cars.

Google has said publicly that there is no current timetable for releasing self-driving cars to the public. And after the recent unwelcome attention to the sector, we can understand the cautionary language.

Earlier this year, a male was killed when his auto-piloted Model S failed to brake and crashed underneath an 18 wheeler, finally ending up on the side of the road. Recently, a self-driving tester SUV owned by Google crashed into a Bay Area bus by turning into traffic without checking for oncoming traffic. The event was filmed in its entirety and the company has since at least admitted that the bus driver was not at fault. Incidentally, the Google car involved in the crash was one of the company’s refitted Lexus SUVs, not one of the prototypes that look like rolling koala bears.




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