Events and Conferences

Brave New Road: The Role of Technology in Achieving Safe and Just Transport Systems

Expert Participants

Tuesday, March 23

Emerging Transportation Technologies, a Primer

A write-up of this panel is available here

Moderator:

Emily Frascaroli, Managing Counsel, Product Litigation Group, Ford Motor Company (US)

Emily Frascaroli is managing counsel of the Product Litigation Group at Ford Motor Company, including the product litigation, asbestos, and discovery teams. She also advises globally on automotive safety, regulatory, and product liability issues, including a focus on autonomous vehicles and mobility. She has extensive experience handling complex product litigation cases, regulatory matters with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and other governmental entities, and product defect investigations. She also is co-chair of the Legal and Insurance Working Group for the University of Michigan’s Mcity. In 2017, she was appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder to the Michigan Council on Future Mobility, and in 2019 she was appointed by Ohio Gov. John Kasich to the DriveOhio Expert Advisory Board.

Professor Frascaroli earned her JD, cum laude, from Wayne State University and was an editor of the Wayne Law Review. She received her BS in aerospace engineering from the University of Southern California and her MEng in aerospace engineering from the University of Michigan. Prior to practicing law, she worked in engineering at both Ford and NASA.

Expert Participants:

Jennifer A. Dukarski, Shareholder, Butzel Long

Jennifer A. Dukarski is a Shareholder based in Butzel Long’s Ann Arbor office, practicing in the areas of intellectual property, media, and technology. She focuses her practice at the intersection of technology and communications with an emphasis on the legal issues arising from emerging and disruptive innovation: digital media and content, vehicle safety, connected and autonomous cars, shared mobility, infotainment, data privacy, and security. Jennifer leads clients in securing and protecting rights in technology through transactions and litigation.  Jennifer was named one of the 30 Women Defining the Future of Technology in January 2020 by Warner Communications for her innovative thoughts and contributions to the tech industry.  She is a Certified Information Privacy Professional concentrating on the U.S. Private Sector privacy and data protection law (CIPP/US). 

Nira Pandya, Associate, Covington & Burling LLP

Nira Pandya is an associate specializing in corporate and technology transactions.  Ms. Pandya developed a keen interest in connected and automated vehicles (CAVs) during law school, where she researched issues of automation and labor.  As a member of the Transportation Research Board’s Standing Committee on Emerging Technology Law, she has assisted in the planning of the annual Automated Vehicle Symposium over the last four years. 

At Covington, Ms. Pandya continues to grow her expertise in this area by tracking and analyzing legislative and regulatory developments with respect to CAVs.  As part of this work, she has published several blog posts and client alerts on this topic.  Ms. Pandya leverages her passion and knowledge in this space to deliver exceptional service to clients in the Internet of Things (IoT) and technology sectors. 

Ms. Pandya has always been passionate about mentorship as a tool for career development, with a focus on women of color and first generation professionals.  In her free time, you’ll find her sipping pour-overs from a local coffee roaster or practicing classical singing.

Bryant Walker Smith, Co-Director of Law and Mobility Program, Associate Professor of Law, University of South Carolina Law School

Bryant Walker Smith is an associate professor in the School of Law and (by courtesy) the School of Engineering at the University of South Carolina. He also is an affiliate scholar at the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School and co-director of the University of Michigan Project on Law and Mobility. He previously led the Emerging Technology Law Committee of the Transportation Research Board of the National Academies and served on the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Advisory Committee on Automation in Transportation.

Trained as a lawyer and an engineer, Smith advises cities, states, countries, and the United Nations on emerging transport technologies. He co-authored the globally influential levels of driving automation, drafted the leading model law for automated driving in the United States, and taught the first legal courses dedicated to automated driving (in 2012), hyperloops, and flying taxis. His students have developed best practices for regulating scooters, and he is writing about what it means to be a trustworthy company. His publications are available at newlypossible.org.

Before joining the University of South Carolina, Smith led the legal aspects of the automated driving program at Stanford University, clerked for The Hon. Evan J. Wallach at the U.S. Court of International Trade, and worked as a fellow at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. He holds both an LLM in international legal studies and a JD (cum laude) from the New York University School of Law and a BS in civil engineering from the University of Wisconsin. Prior to his legal career, Smith worked as a transportation engineer.

Wednesday, March 24

A Conversation with Paul C. Ajegba, Director, Michigan Department of Transportation

Paul C. Ajegba, P.E., Director, Michigan Department of Transportation

Paul C. Ajegba has over 30 years of experience with the Michigan Department of Transportation, and was after 28 years with the department, he was appointed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer as Director on Jan. 1, 2019.  He previously served MDOT for three months as Metro Region Engineer, and before that as University Region Engineer.  During his seven years in the University Region, Ajegba oversaw his team’s involvement in the planning, design and construction of several major projects, including the US-23 Flex Route – a project nominated for the America’s Transportation Award, landing among the top 12 national finalists. Other notable projects include the I-94 rehabilitation project in Ann Arbor/Jackson, the I-96/US-23 interchange, and the I-75 freeway project.

Ajegba holds a Bachelor of Science in civil engineering from Prairie View A&M University and a Master’s Degree in construction engineering from the University of Michigan.  He is a licensed professional engineer in the State of Michigan.

Paul is a member of COMTO (Conference of Minority Transportation Officials), and serves on the following boards:   AASHTO, ITS America, M-City, University of Michigan College of Engineering, the Engineering Society of Detroit, and the Mackinac Bridge Authority.

Thursday, April 1

Transportation Equity and Emerging Technologies

A write-up of this panel is available here

Moderator:

C. Ndu Ozor, Associate General Counsel, University of Michigan

Ndu Ozor joined the University of Michigan Office of the Vice President and General Counsel in 2015.  As Associate General Counsel, Ndu advises his U-M clients on various business and transactional matters, primarily focusing on investments, acquisitions and divestitures, domestic and international transactions, partnerships, financing, automated vehicles, and general corporate governance.

Prior to joining the Office of the Vice President and General Counsel, Ndu was in the private equity group of Perkins Coie LLP, specializing in mergers and acquisitions and finance.  Ndu began his legal career in Chicago as an associate in the private equity group of Kirkland & Ellis LLP.  Ndu received his JD and BBA from the University of Michigan.

Expert Participants:

Robin Chase, Transportation Entrepreneur, Co-Founder of Zipcar

Robin Chase is a transportation entrepreneur. She is co-founder and former CEO of Zipcar, the world’s leading carsharing network; as well as co-founder of Veniam, a network company that moves terabytes of data between vehicles and the cloud. She has recently co-founded her first nonprofit, NUMO, a global alliance to channel the opportunities presented by new urban mobility technologies to build cities that are sustainable and just. Her recent book is Peers Inc: How People and Platforms are Inventing the Collaborative Economy and Reinventing Capitalism.

She sits on the Boards of the World Resources Institute and Tucows, and serves on the Dutch multinational DSM’s Sustainability Advisory Board. In the past, she served on the boards of Veniam and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, the French National Digital Agency, the National Advisory Council for Innovation & Entrepreneurship for the US Department of Commerce, the Intelligent Transportations Systems Program Advisory Committee for the US Department of Transportation, the OECD’s International Transport Forum Advisory Board, the Massachusetts Governor’s Transportation Transition Working Group, and Boston Mayor’s Wireless Task Force.

Robin lectures widely, has been frequently featured in the major media, and has received many awards in the areas of innovation, design, and environment, including the prestigious Urban Land Institute’s Nichols Prize as Urban Visionary, Time 100 Most Influential People, Fast Company Fast 50 Innovators, and BusinessWeek Top 10 Designers. Robin graduated from Wellesley College and MIT’s Sloan School of Management, was a Harvard University Loeb Fellow, and received an honorary Doctorate of Design from the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Dr. David Rojas-Rueda, MD, MPH, PhD, Assistant Professor, Colorado State University

Dr. David Rojas-Rueda’s primary research focuses on promoting a healthy urban design, supporting mitigation, and adaptation to climate change. David is an environmental epidemiologist with over ten years of experience evaluating the health and equity impacts of urban and transport planning policies related to air pollution, traffic noise, green spaces, heat island effects, physical activity, and traffic accidents. He has worked in several countries around Europe, Africa, Latin, and North America. David specializes in health impact assessment, populational risk assessment, the burden of disease, and citizen science. His research actively involves citizens, stakeholders, local and national authorities. He has active collaborations with the World Bank and United Nations agencies, such as the World Health Organization (WHO), the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), and UN-Habitat.

Dr. Regan F. Patterson, PhD, Transportation Equity Research Fellow, Congressional Black Caucus Foundation

Dr. Regan F. Patterson is the Transportation Equity Research Fellow at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF), where she conducts intersectional transportation policy analysis and research. Prior to joining the CBCF, Dr. Patterson was a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research. She earned her PhD in Environmental Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. Her dissertation research focused on the impact of transportation policies on air quality and environmental justice. Dr. Patterson holds a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from UCLA and an M.S. in Environmental Engineering from UC Berkeley.

Dr. Patterson’s most recent work – New Routes to Equity: The Future of Transportation in the Black Community – Can be found here

Tuesday, April 6

Justice, Safety, and Transportation Policy

Building on what we’ve learned from the first two weeks, participants will focus on examining how transportation policy is generated and how policymakers can take a more active role in how new technology is deployed and used. This includes policy issues like policing, street and city design, and their intersection with technological adoption.

Moderator:

Ellen Partridge, Policy & Strategy Director, Shared-Use Mobility Center 

Ellen brings to SUMC the expertise and knowledge of nearly 20 years of work in public transit administration and operations at both the federal and transit agency levels. She was appointed Chief Counsel for the USDOT Research and Innovative Technology Administration and also served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology and Chief Counsel for the FTA. She is intimately familiar with the legal and regulatory landscape of public transit, including the nuances of public agency partnerships with private mobility providers.
 
At the Chicago Transit Authority, she focused on policy initiatives – first as Deputy General Counsel for Policy and Appeals and then in the Strategic Operations unit that deployed new technology and trained supervisors on how to use it to improve bus service. Before joining the nation’s second-largest transit agency, she practiced environmental law with the firms of Jenner & Block in Chicago and Van Ness Feldman in Washington, D.C. She lived in the Republic of Palau, serving as counsel to its government as it transitioned from being a United Nations Trust Territory to independence.
 
While practicing law, she taught environmental and natural resources law as an adjunct professor at Northwestern University and DePaul University Law Schools. Ellen is a fellow with Leadership Greater Chicago, was awarded a fellowship with the German Marshall Fund and was a Senior Fellow with the Environmental Law and Policy Center. She earned her law degree at Georgetown University Law School and an MBA from the University of Chicago.
 

Expert Participants:

Justin Snowden, Mobility Expert, Former Chief of Mobility Strategy for the City of Detroit

Kelly Bartlett, Connected and Automated Vehicle Specialist, Michigan Department of Transportation

Kelly Bartlett is a Connected and Automated Vehicle Specialist for the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT).  He analyzes state and federal regulations and policies on automated vehicles, mobility and related topics.  He was very involved in the drafting of the 2016 Michigan legislation on automated vehicles.  He also assists the Michigan Council on Future Mobility and Electrification and the state’s Office on Future Mobility and Electrification as both consider and develop new policy recommendations.  In addition, Mr. Bartlett participates in national work groups on federal policies.  Prior to his current position, Mr. Bartlett was Senior Policy and Legislative Advisor for MDOT, and previously was a policy advisor in the Michigan Legislature.    

Kristin White, Connected and Automated Vehicles Executive Director, Minnesota Department of Transportation

Kristin White is Executive Director of Minnesota’s Office of Connected and Automated Vehicles (CAV-X), a public sector tech startup and idea incubator that researches and deploys transformational technology and policy. Kristin is a lawyer, policy strategist and innovator who brings empathy and leadership into the transportation sector, challenging us to harness revolutionary technologies and grow new partnerships to build tomorrow today. The CAV-X program is one of the leading CAV programs in the nation, with its projects, research and partnerships winning the National Cronin Award, WTS Innovator Award, and AASHTO Innovation Award.

Kristin has a B.A. from St. Olaf College, law degree from Hamline University School of Law and global arbitration certification from Queen Mary University of London. She began her career as a Fulbright Fellow with the US State Department and has since represented Fortune 500 companies, cities, and states.

Wednesday, April 7 

Challenging Algorithms in Court: A Conversation with Kevin De Liban

Kevin De Liban, Director of Advocacy at Legal Aid of Arkansas

Kevin De Liban is the Director of Advocacy at Legal Aid of Arkansas, nurturing multi-dimensional efforts to improve the lives of low-income Arkansans in matters of health, workers’ rights, safety net benefits, housing, consumer rights, and domestic violence. With Legal Aid, he has led a successful litigation campaign in federal and state courts challenging Arkansas’s use of an algorithm to cut vital Medicaid home-care benefits to individuals who have disabilities or are elderly. In addition, he and Legal Aid of Arkansas, along with the National Health Law Program and Southern Poverty Law Center, successfully challenged Medicaid work requirements in federal court, ending the state’s unlawful use of red-tape that stripped health insurance from over 18,000 people. Kevin regularly presents about imposing accountability on artificial intelligence and algorithms and was a featured speaker at the 2018 AI Now Symposium with other leading technologists, academics, and advocates. In 2019, Kevin received the Emerging Leader award from the national community of legal aid lawyers and public defenders. His work has appeared on or in the PBS Newshour, the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, MSNBC, the Economist, the Verge, and other publications and podcasts. When not practicing law, Kevin is passionately creating music as a rapper.

By Christopher Chorzepa and Phillip Washburn


Week 2 of the 2021 Law and Mobility Conference opened with a discussion, moderated by C. Ndu Ozor, focusing on a variety of topics: inequalities and equity issues in our transportation system, how to prevent new transportation tech from exacerbating these issues, and how new tech can potentially help correct injustices. 

Dr. Regan F. Patterson began the panel by highlighting that automobile-dominated systems have destructive impacts on Black people and communities, and that we must explicitly consider impacts on racial violence during the transition to other technologies. Dr. Patterson highlighted how cars are frequent sites of violence against Black people, as seen in the interactions between police and George Floyd, Sandra Bland, and countless others. Citing pieces by Tamika Butler and Brentin Mock, Dr. Patterson stressed that policymakers and developers of shared electric and automated vehicles (SEAVs) must explicitly think about whether this technology can make transportation safer for Black people and diminish racial violence. 

Sadly, transportation planning has long not accomplished these goals. It has been used as a tool of oppression, deliberately targeting Black communities. Highway construction destroyed Black neighborhoods and placed heavily trafficked highways closer to communities of color, resulting in environmental justice concerns due to high levels of emissions contributing to poor health outcomes. Further, Dr. Patterson framed climate change as a racial justice concern, since its impacts fall unevenly on the most vulnerable communities. She expressed a desire for a transportation system that reduces Black harm, affirms Black life, and ensures livable Black futures.

Dr. David Rojas-Rueda focused on how transportation policies and technologies shape public health. Dr. Rojas said that emerging transportation technologies should consider impacts on human health, focusing on how they impact urban design (surroundings and ability to get places affects health), human behavior (physical activity affects health), disease, and mortality from accidents. Examining micromobility, Dr. Rojas found that substitution to e-scooters — from bikes, public transit, or cars — may result in different impacts on health based on the current transportation composition of the city. 

In Atlanta, substitution to e-scooters was harmful because of increased risk of traffic fatalities and reduced physical activity. In contrast, it was beneficial in Portland because e-scooters were associated with fewer traffic incidents. Examining SEAVs, Dr. Rojas said that human health impacts will vary based on how we handle the transition. He highlighted that SEAVs might affect health by increasing autonomy of those who cannot drive (children, elderly, and disabled folks), reducing road deaths and injuries (although this would result in reduced organ donations), present presently unknown risks from increased exposure to electromagnetic fields, reducing stress from driving (but potentially increase stress through time spent working while commuting), and increasing use of alcohol and drugs (through reduced need for designated drivers). Dr. Rojas emphasized that we need to prioritize the deployment of SEAVs in low-income areas because road injuries and deaths tend to be more common in disadvantaged areas, and these communities have traditionally been underserved by transportation planning. Thus, the increased autonomy and reduced risk of road accidents from SEAVs would greatly benefit human health in disadvantaged neighborhoods.

Robin Chase stressed two problems: (1) there is an “unseen fifty percent” of the population that does not have access to safe and reliable transportation because they do not have a driver’s license or access to a car, or they do not have the money to gain access to a car or other form of transportation; and (2) whereas we used to have a background reality of a right to mobility, we have now made it safer to cross the ocean in a plane than to cross the road in an automobile, so that the unseen fifty percent is now unable to move without being subjected to high risk of injury or death. 

Ms. Chase proposed that we fix these problems by increasing access to shared mobility. She added that shared mobility would also have equity benefits, since using shared mobility would increase physical activity (putting a dent in the obesity epidemic, which disproportionately affects BIPOC), reduce the volume of traffic accidents (which also disproportionately affects BIPOC), and reduce emissions (climate change disproportionately affects BIPOC). Thus, she proposed that the government shift spending priorities away from SEAVs to public transit. Ms. Chase finished her presentation stressing the equity benefits derived from the implementation of emerging transportation technology while emphasizing the potential abuse for user data surveillance purposes assembled from digitized travel.

In discussion, the panelists highlighted that transportation inequities often exacerbate housing and employment inequities, and stressed that transportation and housing must be planned together to achieve the best outcomes for racial, health, and economic equity. Dr. Patterson noted that transit systems have often been used to facilitate gentrification and suburbanization, and stressed that there needs to be a solution like van-pooling services to get between housing centers and transit hubs to deal with these problems. 

The panelists agreed that disadvantaged communities need to be prioritized during transportation planning because transit improvements need to benefit everyone, not just affluent communities. Because public transit is used more intensively than SEAVs, government spending priorities need to shift if we want to do the most good for the most people. To that end, the panelists set a goal of allowing poor and Black people to safely live car-independent lives, rather than our current focus on providing subsidies to already rich people. For instance, we provide tax incentives to put solar panels on your home (benefitting homeowners) and buy an electric vehicle (benefitting car-owners).

The final issue considered by the panelists was how much startups and smaller companies should be regulated to pursue equity goals. Dr. Patterson stated that equity needs to be inserted into business models from the beginning because it traditionally has been ignored and led to inequitable outcomes. Otherwise, biased outcomes can be programmed into automated systems. Dr. Patterson firmly believed that switching course mid-stream is not feasible, and equity needs to be a primary consideration at the outset. Further, Dr. Rojas felt that policymaking should be proactive and made in an interdisciplinary function, incorporating equity and innovation concerns.

On the other hand, Ms. Chase felt that there should be a two-tiered regulation scheme with more onerous equity regulations for large companies and less red tape for startups. Ms. Chase emphasized that part of the problem faced by transportation startups is that they are not financially rewarded for their positive externalities on equity, while cars do not have to pay for the emissions, parking, and road damage they cause. Thus, she stated that companies with low volume and slim profit margins should receive less regulation so that they may grow and innovate. 

The question of when the government should require companies meet certain transportation goals is an important one. Soft-regulation can foster innovation, but may leave blind spots that persist past initial stages. Early and consistent regulation may end some startups before the get going, but would ensure the companies that survive have the right goals. Regardless of when it enters the stage, it is important that equity be part of all transit solutions.

The 2021 Law and Mobility Conference opened with a panel, moderated by Emily Frascaroli, that set out to begin answering three questions: What are emerging transportation technologies? What is the legal landscape surrounding these technologies? What are some challenges that these technologies face, in terms of both gaining popular use and promoting transportation equity?

Nira Pandya presented on the legal landscape of connected and automated vehicles (AV). The current legal landscape of AV falls into three buckets: federal law, nonbinding federal agency guidance, and state law. On the federal level, there is no comprehensive federal AV legislation. On the regulatory side, the Department of Transportation has promulgated nonbinding regulatory guidance to encourage collaboration, transparency, and integration of AVs into existing transportation systems, but there are no binding regulations on any aspect of AVs. Meanwhile, at least 29 states and D.C. have enacted AV-related legislation or executive orders, creating a varying and uncertain landscape for AVs throughout the U.S. Moving forward, the Biden administration seems generally committed to the development of innovative transportation technology and has appointed leaders whose backgrounds align well with this goal.

Jennifer A. Dukarski presented on data, a key driver of mobility. Data is already ubiquitous in our transportation technology, from conventional vehicles’ navigation and diagnostic systems to the account and payment systems for scooter shares. Data will only become more frequently and invasively collected as our transportation system becomes more connected and automated. Yet the U.S. lacks comprehensive federal legislation for data privacy, all the while there is a dearth of regulations and legislation at both the state and federal levels that restrict how transportation companies can use our data. States such as California have developed broad, cross-cutting data privacy laws, and leaders in the field speculate that federal data privacy legislation could be introduced as soon as this fall.

Bryant Walker Smith discussed how emerging transportation must focus on both technology and the law being means to serve social needs such as increased transportation safety and equity, rather than ends in themselves. He outlined the safe systems approach, which focuses on both the vehicle and infrastructure aspects of transportation being designed to maximize social goals, such as safety, through design and policy.

A contentious issue with emerging transportation that the panelists highlighted was the reality that the companies creating transportation technology will, for better or worse, be driving the regulation of this technology. In this vein, one of the challenges of promoting transportation equity through policy or otherwise is weighing just how much pressure to put on AV companies to solve social injustices. Are we striving for equity in AV because it is better than striving for equity in more traditional modes of transportation, or are we doing this just because it is more convenient than dismantling the inequities built into our current transportation system? Given that transportation inequity is tied to a variety of broad and overlapping historical policies – housing, insurance, and urban development, to name a few – how much pressure can we really place on an AV or scooter company to resolve these social problems?

Finally, in describing the challenges to widespread adoption of emerging transportation technology, the panelists converged on the importance of transparency and uniformity.  For transportation systems like AV to work, the technology needs to be seamless, which will be challenging in the absence of a comprehensive federal framework. Promoting transparency from AV manufacturers about safety, data, and equity issues will be essential in developing consumer trust. This trust will then serve two purposes: getting more people on board with using these technologies and getting more people to advocate for their elected officials to pass good policies regulating these technologies.

The panel wrapped up with brief discussions of a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) advanced notice of proposed rulemaking on a “Framework for Automated Driving System Safety” – which has had its comment period extended to April 1 – and of spectrum issues with connected vehicles.

Brave New Road: The Role of Technology in Achieving Safe and Just Transport Systems

Co-sponsored by the University of South Carolina School of Law

How can new technologies help correct the many equity and equality issues facing our transportation system? How can we ensure the deployment of new technologies doesn’t exacerbate these existing issues?

Over the course of March, April, and May, experts and advocates will join together to discuss how to ensure emerging transportation technologies (Such as automated vehicles (“AVs”), micromobility, connected infrastructure, and unmanned aerial vehicles (“UAVs”)) are deployed in ways that focus on justice and safety for the communities they are operating in. This focus will include experts from a number of disciplines and focus on the safe systems approach, civil rights, equity, and the law and policy considerations related to those issues.

Information on all of the experts participating in this conference is available along with links to their work and other recommended reading.

Week One - March 23 and 24
Does Newer Mean Better? - The Present and Future of Emerging Transportation Technologies
Tuesday, March 23 – 12:00 PM to 1:30 PM Eastern

Emerging Transportation Technologies, a Primer

A write-up of this panel is available here

Expert participants will provide an overview of emerging transportation technologies, focusing on AVs, micromobility, connected infrastructure, and UAVs. The discussion will include details on how these technologies work, their capabilities, and the technical, legal, and policy challenges they face when deployed in public. 

Moderator:

Emily Frascaroli, Managing Counsel, Product Litigation Group, Ford Motor Company (US)

Expert Participants:

Jennifer A. Dukarski, Shareholder, Butzel Long

Nira Pandya, Associate, Covington

Bryant Walker Smith, Co-Director of Law and Mobility Program, Associate Professor of Law, University of South Carolina Law School

Wednesday, March 24 – 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM Eastern

A Conversation with Paul C. Ajegba, Director, Michigan Department of Transportation

Join us in conversation with Paul C. Ajegba, P.E., Director of the Michigan Department of Transportation. Director Ajegba will discuss MDOT’s work with emerging technologies, as well as how the agency pursues community input and involvement in its projects, before taking time for audience Q&A.

Week Two - April 1
Getting From Here to There - Communities, Emerging Technologies, and Transportation Equity
Thursday, April 1 – 12:00 PM to 1:30 PM Eastern

Transportation Equity and Emerging Technologies

A write-up of this panel is available here

Expert participants will highlight the inequalities and equity issues that exist in our transportation system, how to prevent new transportation tech from exacerbating these issues, and how new tech can potentially help correct those injustices.

Moderator:

C. Ndu Ozor, Associate General Counsel, University of Michigan

Expert Participants:

Robin Chase, Transportation Entrepreneur, Co-Founder of Zipcar

Dr. David Rojas-Rueda, MD, MPH, PhD, Assistant Professor, Colorado State University

Dr. Regan F. Patterson, PhD, Transportation Equity Research Fellow, Congressional Black Caucus Foundation

Week Three - April 6 and 7
Where Do We Go From Here?
Tuesday, April 6 – 12:00 PM to 1:30 PM Eastern

Justice, Safety, and Transportation Policy

Building on what we’ve learned from the first two weeks, participants will focus on examining how transportation policy is generated and how policymakers can take a more active role in how new technology is deployed and used. This includes policy issues like policing, street and city design, and their intersection with technological adoption.

Moderator:

Ellen Partridge, Policy & Strategy Director, Shared-Use Mobility Center 

Expert Participants:

Justin Snowden, Mobility Expert, Former Chief of Mobility Strategy for the City of Detroit

Kelly Bartlett, Connected and Automated Vehicle Specialist, Michigan Department of Transportation

Kristin White, Connected and Automated Vehicles Executive Director, Minnesota Department of Transportation

Wednesday, April 7 – 12:00 PM to 12:30 PM Eastern

Challenging Algorithms in Court: A Conversation with Kevin De Liban

Join us for a conversation with Kevin De Liban, Director of Advocacy at Legal Aid of Arkansas, who will discuss his work on a successful challenge to Arkansas’s use of an algorithm to make decisions on Medicaid home-care benefits. Kevin will discuss how to approach legal challenges to algorithmic decision-making and what that could mean for emerging technologies. 

Here you will find more information on the Expert Participants who are taking part in our 2020 Conference, including bios and links to their websites and work:

  • Silvia Stuchi Cruz – Founder, CorridaAmiga (Brazil)

Silvia Stuchi Cruz is a Postdoc in Sustainability at the University of Sao Paulo, with emphasis on active mobility. She has previously served as an environmental manager at the University of Sao Paulo, and holds a PhD in Scientific Policy and Technology from State University of Campinas. While completing her PhD she interned at the University of Science and Technology in Lille/ France, and was a visiting student researcher at the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. Silvia has 8 years of experience in sustainability and climate change, along with 6 years of work on pedestrian mobility. A passionate active transportation advocate, she is the founder of the NGO “Corrida Amiga” which works with Brazilian communities (public schools, as wel as institutions for elderly people and people with disabilities) to promote pedestrian mobility and to develop projects, campaigns and tools related to walkability, accessibility and right to the city.   

  • Dr. Rohit Baluja – Chairman, Institute of Road Traffic Education (India)

Rohit Baluja has a PhD in Civil Engineering from the University of Birmingham. Rohit is now a visiting faculty at the School of Civil Engineering, University of Birmingham as well as at the Sardar Vallabhai Patel –Indian National Police Academy, Hyderabad.

Rohit established the Institute of Road Traffic Education (IRTE)as a not for profit organization in New Delhi  1991, which has led to the establishment of the College of Traffic Management in the NCR Delhi which is the only single umbrella facility for research and training in all the areas of traffic management. The College of Traffic Management has now been recognized as the Centre for Excellence in Road Safety for the South East Asian Region.

Rohit is a Member at the United Nations Road Safety Collaboration. As President IRTE, he is Observer at the United Nations Global Forum for Road Traffic Safety (Working Party 1). The IRTE has been granted the Roster Consultative Status by the United Nations Economic and Social Council and have recently signed an MOU with the United Nations towards promoting road safety in South East Asia.

  • He Shanshan – Partner, Anli Partners (China)

He Shanshan is the head of Autonomous Driving Law Centre of Intelligent & Connected Mobility Academy, and leader of Automobile and Artificial Intelligence Group of Anli Partners. Ms. He Shanshan is also the member of Autonomous Driving Expert Committee of Beijing.

Shanshan has been closely working on the automated driving projects and conducting research and advice on law, policy, ethics and standards regarding AI and autonomous driving. She also keeps close communication and cooperation with industry field, academic field and relevant authorities domestically and overseas on AI and autonomous vehicles. 

Shanshan obtained the bachelor of law degree and master of law degree from Tsinghua University School of Law, the master of law degree from Columbia University in New York. She is both qualified in P.R. China and New York.  Her previous experience includes work in an international law firm and the legal department of an international automobile company.

  • Luiz Otávio Maciel – Miranda Advisor, Traffic Department of State of Pará (Brazil)

Luiz Otávio Maciel Miranda is an advisor at the Traffic Department of the State of Pará – DETRAN/PA, where he has worked since 1983. He is the Brazilian delegate at the Global Forum for Road Traffic Safety (WP.1) of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) since 2016. Counselor at the National Traffic Council (CONTRAN) representing the Ministry of Health, working on the drafting of National Road Safety Regulations and the enforcement of the Brazilian Traffic Code. He worked as a consultant at the Global Road Safety Partnership (GRSP) at the Bloomberg Philanthropies Global Road Safety Programme (BPGRSP) and the Bloomberg Initiative for Global Road Safety (BIGRS) for Brazil. He worked as an advisor at the National Traffic Department (DENATRAN), Technical Consultant at the Ministry of Health and Counselor at the State Traffic Council (CETRAN/PA)

Mr. Miranda graduated from Federal University of Pará with degrees in Civil Engineering (1985), Mathematics (1983) and Science (1982).

  • Pramanand Gopaldu – Lead Engineer, Traffic Management and Road Safety Unit (Mauritius)

Pramanand Gopaldu is a Lead Engineer for Traffic Management and Road Safety, a department under the aegis of the Ministry of Land Transport and Light Rail in Mauritius. For the past 15 years he has devoted much of his practice to maximize road safety and to address road traffic issues.

Mr Gopaldu graduated from the University of Mauritius, with a bachelor degree in Civil Engineering in 1994. He then earned his Master’s degree in Traffic from Monash University, Australia, in 2012.

  • Phil Monture – (Six Nations of the Grand River)

Beginning in 1975, Phil developed a long-term research program and supervised the research for the Six Nations of the Grand River as relates to lands which are no longer used for their benefit or legal surrender obtained under prevailing legislation. He was the principle architect of the ongoing 1995 litigation against Canada and Ontario for an accounting of all Six Nations Lands, resources and assets supposedly held and managed on Six Nations behalf by the Crown(s). 

Phil has also been active in taking Six Nations unresolved Land Rights issues to the United Nations and working with developer proponents utilizing the legal duty to consult and accommodate; implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and its requirement to obtain our free, prior and informed consent. This has enabled the Six Nations Peoples to have partnerships and beneficiaries of over 1,000 MGW of Green Energy developments within Six Nations Treaty lands.

Utilizing Six Nations’ Sovereign Treaty relations with the Crown, Six Nations have undertaken protective measures through the Climate Development Mechanism of the UN to assert certain initiatives to counter climate change and to enhance their environment.

  • Raymond Hess – Transportation Manager, City of Ann Arbor (US)

Raymond Hess is Transportation Manager for the City of Ann Arbor, Michigan. Alongside a passionate team, he implements transportation initiatives that aim to improve safety and the livability of the community. Previously, he was Director of Planning Services at the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada and oversaw the Metropolitan Planning Organization for the greater Las Vegas Valley as well as a regional sustainable communities initiative known as Southern Nevada Strong. Prior to joining the RTC, Raymond worked for the City of Bloomington (IN), the City of Brooksville (FL) and was a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Ivory Coast West Africa.

  • Ellen Partridge – Policy and Strategy Director at Shared-Use Mobility Center (US)
Ellen Partridge has nearly 20 years of work in public transit administration and operations at both the federal and transit agency levels. She was appointed Chief Counsel for the USDOT Research and Innovative Technology Administration and also served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology and Chief Counsel for the FTA. She is intimately familiar with the legal and regulatory landscape of public transit, including the nuances of public agency partnerships with private mobility providers.
 
At the Chicago Transit Authority, she focused on policy initiatives – first as Deputy General Counsel for Policy and Appeals and then in the Strategic Operations unit that deployed new technology and trained supervisors on how to use it to improve bus service. Before joining the nation’s second-largest transit agency, she practiced environmental law with the firms of Jenner & Block in Chicago and Van Ness Feldman in Washington, D.C. She lived in the Republic of Palau, serving as counsel to its government as it transitioned from being a United Nations Trust Territory to independence.
 
While practicing law, she taught environmental and natural resources law as an adjunct professor at Northwestern University and DePaul University Law Schools. Ellen is a fellow with Leadership Greater Chicago, was awarded a fellowship with the German Marshall Fund and was a Senior Fellow with the Environmental Law and Policy Center. She earned her law degree at Georgetown University Law School and an MBA from the University of Chicago.
 
  • Daniel Arking – Counsel, Department of Law, City of Detroit (US)

Daniel Arking is an Assistant Corporation Counsel in the City of Detroit Law Department. In this role, Daniel works on a variety of regulatory and transactional matters related to land use and zoning, recreation, transportation and mobility, and public private partnerships. In the mobility space, Daniel has worked with the City’s mobility innovation team to expand access to a variety of transportation options, including the development of guidelines for the operation of dockless electric scooters in Detroit. Since then, multiple scooter operators have deployed over 1,000 scooters in neighborhoods across the City with notable success.

Prior to joining the Detroit Law Department in 2015, Daniel served as an Associate in the Washington DC office of Holland & Knight LLP and as an aide in the New York City Mayor’s Office under the Bloomberg Administration. Daniel holds a Juris Doctor from the Georgetown University Law Center and a Bachelor of Arts in Physics from the University of Chicago.

  • Jeff P. Michael, EdD – Distinguished Scholar and Leon S. Robertson Faculty Development Chair in Injury Prevention, Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins University (US)

Dr. Michael is an accomplished national and international leader with demonstrated leadership in analysis, development and implementation of programs to improve road safety – both in the United States and in other nations. As the Leon S. Robertson Faculty Development Chair in Injury Prevention, Dr. Michael’s current research focuses on the development of strategies for utilizing emerging mobility technologies to improve safety and reduce health disparities. The combination of artificial intelligence, shared rides and electric vehicles is predicted to transform mobility patterns in the next decade.  Inherent in this transformation is the potential to deliver mobility services to populations that have historically suffered from limited access to health care, nutritious food and economic opportunities. However, the prevailing market-driven mobility movement is unlikely to reach these underserved populations absent a deliberate scientific and policy initiative dedicated to this purpose.

As Coordinator of the New Mobility Initiative at the Center for Injury Research and Policy, Dr. Michael is leading an effort to develop evidence-based policy models to steer the deployment of New Mobility products and services for public health benefit. The New Mobility Initiative is working closely with the City of Baltimore to conduct and evaluate mobility experiments and policy evaluations.  

  • Emily Frascaroli – Managing Counsel, Product Litigation Group, Ford Motor Company (US)

Emily Frascaroli is managing counsel of the Product Litigation Group at Ford Motor Company, including the product litigation, asbestos, and discovery teams. She also advises globally on automotive safety, regulatory, and product liability issues, including a focus on autonomous vehicles and mobility. She has extensive experience handling complex product litigation cases, regulatory matters with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and other governmental entities, and product defect investigations. She also is co-chair of the Legal and Insurance Working Group for the University of Michigan’s Mcity. In 2017, she was appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder to the Michigan Council on Future Mobility, and in 2019 she was appointed by Ohio Gov. John Kasich to the DriveOhio Expert Advisory Board.

She earned her JD, cum laude, from Wayne State University and was an editor of the Wayne Law Review. She received her BS in aerospace engineering from the University of Southern California and her MEng in aerospace engineering from the University of Michigan. Prior to practicing law, she worked in engineering at both Ford and NASA.

  • Jessica Robinson – President and Executive Director, Michigan Mobility Institute (US)

Jessica Robinson is President and Executive Director of the Michigan Mobility Institute where she works to accelerate the development of talent for the growing mobility industry. The Institute is the first initiative of the Detroit Mobility Lab which she co-founded to focus on building the mobility talent infrastructure necessary to shape the sector’s future within the City of Detroit. She has more than 10 years of operating experience with mobility businesses at Zipcar and Ford Smart Mobility and a background in technology and innovation launching startup accelerator programs at Techstars with industry-leading corporate partners.

Global Perspectives on Law, Policy, and Mobility Innovation

Co-sponsored by the University of South Carolina School of Law.

 February 7th, 2020

9:00 AM – 5:30 PM

Room 1225, Jeffries Hall, University of Michigan Law School 

The goal of the 2020 Law and Mobility conference is to bring together a diverse selection of international transportation experts from government, industry, and civil society to discuss how communities and nations across the globe are reacting to new mobility technologies like drones, automated vehicles, and micro-mobility platforms. Within the United States the discussion around new mobility technology has been focused on domestic developments, with some discussion of developments in nations and regions that have deep connections to the American transportation system – as dictated by geography (Canada) or economics (the EU, Japan, South Korea, and Japan, among others). This conference is intended to expand that discussion to a wider set of nations and regions, to gain new perspectives on both the promise and peril of these emerging technologies.

Global Perspectives on Law, Policy, and Mobility Innovation is presented by the University of Michigan Law School’s Law and Mobility Program, and co-sponsored by the University of South Carolina School of Law.

Expert Participants will include:

  • Silvia Stuchi Cruz – Founder, CorridaAmiga (Brazil)
  • Dr. Rohit Baluja – Chairman, Institute of Road Traffic Education (India)
  • He Shanshan – Partner, Anli Partners (China)
  • Luiz Otávio Maciel – Miranda Advisor, Traffic Department of State of Pará (Brazil)
  • Pramanand Gopaldu – Lead Engineer, Traffic Management and Road Safety Unit (Mauritius)
  • Phil Monture – (Six Nations of the Grand River)
  • Raymond Hess – Transportation Manager, City of Ann Arbor (US)
  • Ellen Partridge – Policy and Strategy Director at Shared-Use Mobility Center (US)
  • Daniel Arking – Counsel, Department of Law, City of Detroit (US)
  • Jeff P. Michael, EdD – Distinguished Scholar and Leon S. Robertson Faculty Development Chair in Injury Prevention, Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins University (US)
  • Emily Frascaroli – Managing Counsel, Product Litigation Group, Ford Motor Company (US)
  • Jessica Robinson – President and Executive Director, Michigan Mobility Institute (US)

Further Information on Expert Participants is Available Here

Schedule of Events

Morning Sessions


(Available via livestream)

  • 9:00 am – 9:05 am
Welcome and Introduction

Profs. Daniel Crane and Bryant Walker Smith


  • 9:05 am – 10:15 am
Expert Participant Presentations 

Expert participants will make short presentations on their work and the transportation issues faced by their communities and nations.

Presenters:


  • 10:30 am – 12:00 pm
Rural and Inter-City Transportation

Emily Frascaroli, Moderator  

Expert participants will discuss the transportation challenges facing rural communities, the demands of moving people and goods across nations and regions as a whole, and how emerging transportation technologies can meet those challenges.

Each expert will briefly present their views on these issues, followed by open discussion with other speakers and questions from the audience.

Expert Participants:

Pramanand Gopaldu, Lead Engineer, Traffic Management and Road Safety Unit (Mauritius)

Luiz Otávio Maciel Miranda, Advisor, Traffic Department of State of Pará (Brazil)

Phil Monture, (Six Nations of the Grand River)

Lunch and Expert Participant Presentations

(Available via livestream)

  • 12:00 pm – 1:45 pm 

All guests will enjoy lunch while some of our expert participants make short presentations on their work and the transportation issues faced by their communities and nations.

Presenters: 

Afternoon Sessions

(Available via livestream)

  • 1:45 pm – 3:15 pm
Urban Transportation

Ellen Partridge, Moderator  

Expert participants will discuss the transportation challenges facing urban areas, and how emerging transportation technologies can meet those challenges. 

Each expert will briefly present their views on these issues, followed by open discussion with other speakers and questions from the audience.

Expert Participants:

Daniel Arking, Counsel, Department of Law, City of Detroit (US)

Silvia Stuchi Cruz, Founder, CorridaAmiga (Brazil)

Raymond Hess, Transportation Manager, City of Ann Arbor (US)


  • 3:30 pm – 5:00 pm
Transportation Regulation, Policy, and Planning 

Bryant Walker Smith, Moderator

Expert participants will discuss how governments and communities approach new transportation technology, and the relationship between law, policy, and planning in transportation systems. 

Each expert will briefly present their views on these issues, followed by open discussion with other speakers and questions from the audience.

Expert Participants:

Dr. Rohit Baluja, Chairman, Institute of Road Traffic Education (India)

Jeff P. Michael, EdD, Distinguished Scholar and Leon S. Robertson Faculty Development Chair in Injury Prevention, Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins University (US)

Jessica Robinson, President and Executive Director, Michigan Mobility Institute (US)


  • 5:00 pm – 5:30 pm

Summary and Closing

Ian Williams, Moderator

Expert participants and attendees will close out the day by taking part in wide discussion of all of the day’s panels.

    

(Re)Writing the Rules of the Road

A write-up of the afternoon sessions is now available here!

March 15, 2019 – 10:00 AM – 5:30 PM

Room 1225, Jeffries Hall, University of Michigan Law School 

In the case of automated driving, how and to whom should the rules of the road apply? This deep-dive conference brings together experts from government, industry, civil society, and academia to answer these questions through focused and robust discussion.

To ensure that discussions are accessible to all participants, the day will begin with an introduction to the legal and technical aspects of automated driving. It will then continue with a more general discussion of what it means to follow the law. After a lunch keynote by Rep. Debbie Dingell, expert panels will consider how traffic law should apply to automated driving and the legal person (if any) who should be responsible for traffic law violations. The day will conclude with audience discussion and a reception for all attendees.

(Re)Writing the Rules of the Road is presented by the University of Michigan Law School’s Law and Mobility Program, and co-sponsored by the University of South Carolina School of Law.

Schedule of Events

Morning Sessions 

  • 10:00 am – 10:45 am

Connected and Automated Vehicles – A Technical and Legal Primer

Prof. Bryant Walker Smith

Professor Bryant Walker Smith will provide a technical and legal introduction to automated driving and connected driving with an emphasis on the key concepts, terms, and laws that will be foundational to the afternoon sessions. This session is intended for all participants, including those with complementary expertise and those who are new to automated driving. Questions are welcome. 

  • 10:45 am – 11:15 am
Drivers Licenses for Robots? State DMV Approaches to CAV Regulation

Bernard Soriano, Deputy Director for the California DMV and James Fackler, Assistant Administrator for the Customer Services Administration in the Michigan Secretary of State’s Office, discuss their respective state’s approaches to regulating connected and autonomous vehicles.

  • 11:15 am – 12:00 pm
Just What Is the Law? How Does Legal Theory Apply to Automated Vehicles and Other Autonomous Technologies?

Prof. Scott Hershovitz    

Human drivers regularly violate the rules of the road. What does this say about the meaning of law? Professor Scott Hershovitz introduces legal theory and relates it to automated driving and autonomy more generally.                  

Keynote & Lunch

  • 12:00 pm – 12:30 pm
Lunch

Free for all registered attendees!

  • 12:30 pm-1:30 pm

Keynote – Rep. Debbie Dingell

Rep. Dingell shares her insights from both national and local perspectives.  

Afternoon Sessions

(Chatham House Rule)

  • 1:30 pm – 3:00 pm
Crossing the Double Yellow Line: Should Automated Vehicles Always Follow the Rules of the Road as Written?

Should automated vehicles be designed to strictly follow the rules of the road? How should these vehicles reconcile conflicts between those rules? Are there meaningful differences among exceeding the posted speed limit to keep up with the flow of traffic, crossing a double yellow line to give more room to a bicyclist, and driving through a stop sign at the direction of a police officer? If flexibility and discretion are appropriate, how can they be achieved in law?

A panel of experts will each briefly present their views on these questions, followed by open discussion with other speakers and questions from the audience.

Featured Speakers:

Justice David F. Viviano, Michigan Supreme Court

Emily Frascaroli, Counsel, Ford Motor Company

Jessica Uguccioni, Lead Lawyer, Automated Vehicles Review, Law Commission of England and Wales

  • 3:15 pm – 4:45 pm
Who Gets the Ticket? Who or What is the Legal Driver, and How Should Law Be Enforced Against Them?

Who or what should decide whether an automated vehicle should violate a traffic law? And who or what should be responsible for that violation? Are there meaningful differences among laws about driving behavior, laws about vehicle maintenance, and laws and post-crash responsibilities? How should these laws be enforced? What are the respective roles for local, state, and national authorities?

A panel of experts will each briefly present their views on these questions, followed by open discussion with other speakers and questions from the audience.

Featured Speakers:

Thomas J. Buiteweg, Partner, Hudson Cook, LLP

Kelsey Brunette Fiedler, Ideation Analyst in Mobility Domain

Karlyn D. Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, RAND Corporation

Daniel Hinkle, State Affairs Counsel, American Association for Justice

  • 4:45 pm – 5:30 pm 
 Summary and General Discussion                                     

Participants and attendees close out the day by taking part in wide discussion of all of the day’s panels.

Cite as: Raphael Beauregard-Lacroix, (Re)Writing the Rules of The Road: Reflections from the Journal of Law and Mobility’s 2019 Conference, 2019 J. L. & Mob. 97.

On March 15th, 2019, the Journal of Law and Mobility, part of the University of Michigan’s Law and Mobility Program, presented its inaugural conference, entitled “(Re)Writing the Rules of The Road.” The conference was focused on issues surrounding the relationship between automated vehicles (“AVs”) and the law. In the afternoon, two panels of experts from academia, government, industry, and civil society were brought together to discuss how traffic laws should apply to automated driving and the legal person (if any) who should be responsible for traffic law violations. The afternoon’s events occurred under a modified version of the Chatham House Rule, to allow the participants to speak more freely. In the interest of allowing those who did not attend to still benefit from the day’s discussion, the following document was prepared. This document is a summary of the two panels, and an effort has been made to de-identify the speaker while retaining the information conveyed. 

Panel I: Crossing the Double Yellow Line: Should Automated Vehicles Always Follow the Rules of the Road as Written?

The first panel focused on whether automated vehicles should be designed to strictly follow the rules of the road. Questions included – How should these vehicles reconcile conflicts between those rules? Are there meaningful differences between acts such as exceeding the posted speed limit to keep up with the flow of traffic, crossing a double yellow line to give more room to a bicyclist, or driving through a stop sign at the direction of a police officer? If flexibility and discretion are appropriate, how can this be reflected in law? 

Within the panel, there was an overall agreement that we need both flexibility in making the law, and flexibility in the law itself among the participants. It was agreed that rigidity, both on the side of the technology as well as on the side of norms, would not serve AVs well. The debate was focused over just how much flexibility there should be and how this flexibility can be formulated in the law.

One type of flexibility that already exists is legal standards. One participant emphasized that the law is not the monolith it may seem from the outside – following a single rule, like not crossing a double yellow line, is not the end of an individual’s interaction with the law. There are a host of different laws applying to different situations, and many of these laws are formulated as standards – for example, the standard that a person operating a vehicle drives with “due care and attention.” Such an approach to the law may change the reasoning of a judge when it would come to determining liability for an accident involving an AV. 

When we ask if AVs should always follow the law, our intuitive reaction is of course they should. Yet, some reflection may allow one to conclude that such strict programming might not be realistic. After all, human drivers routinely break the law. Moreover, most of the participants explicitly agreed that as humans, we get to choose to break the law, sometimes in a reasonable way, and we get to benefit from the discretion of law enforcement. 

That, however, does not necessarily translate to the world of AVs, where engineers make decisions about code and where enforcement can be automatized to a high degree, both ex ante and ex post. Moreover, such flexibilities in the law needs to be tailored to the specific social need; speeding is a “freedom” we enjoy with our own, personal legacy cars, and this type of law breaking does not fulfill the same social function as a driver being allowed to get on the sidewalk in order to avoid an accident. 

One participant suggested that in order to reduce frustrating interactions with AVs, and to overall foster greater safety, AVs need the flexibility not to follow the letter of the law in some situations. Looking to the specific example of the shuttles running on the University of Michigan’s North Campus – those vehicles are very strict in their compliance with the law. 1 1. Susan Carney, Mcity Driverless Shuttle launches on U-M’s North Campus, The Michigan Engineer (June 4, 2018), https://news.engin.umich.edu/2018/06/mcity-driverless-shuttle-launches-on-u-ms-north-campus/. × They travel slowly, to the extent that their behavior can annoy human drivers. When similar shuttles from the French company Navya were deployed in Las Vegas, 2 2. Paul Comfort, U.S. cities building on Las Vegas’ success with autonomous buses, Axios (Sept. 14, 2018), https://www.axios.com/us-cities-building-on-las-vegas-success-with-autonomous-buses-ce6b3d43-c5a3-4b39-a47b-2abde77eec4c.html. × there was an accident on the very first run. 3 3. Sean O’Kane, Self-driving shuttle crashed in Las Vegas because manual controls were locked away, The Verge (July 11, 2019, 5:32 PM), https://www.theverge.com/2019/7/11/20690793/self-driving-shuttle-crash-las-vegas-manual-controls-locked-away. × A car backed into the shuttle, and when a normal driver would have gotten out of the way, the shuttle did not.

One answer is that we will know it when we see it; or that solutions will emerge out of usage. However, many industry players do not favor such a risk-taking strategy. Indeed, it was argued that smaller players in the AV industry would not be able to keep up if those with deeper pockets decide to go the risky way. 

Another approach to the question is to ask what kind of goals should we be applying to AVs? A strict abidance to legal rules or mitigating harm? Maximizing safety? There are indications of some form of international consensus 4 4. UN resolution paves way for mass use of driverless cars, UN News (Oct. 10, 2018), https://news.un.org/en/story/2018/10/1022812. × (namely in the form of a UN Resolution) 5 5. UN Economic Commission for Europe, Revised draft resolution on the deployment of highly and fully automated vehicles in road traffic (July, 12, 2018), https://www.unece.org/fileadmin/DAM/trans/doc/2018/wp1/ECE-TRANS-WP.1-2018-4-Rev_2e.pdf × that the goal should not be strict abidance to the law, and that other road users may commit errors, which would then put the AV into a situation of deciding between strict legality and safety or harm. 

In Singapore, the government recently published “Technical Reference 68,” which sets up a hierarchy of rules, such as safety, traffic flow, and with the general principle of minimizing rule breaking. This example shows that principles can act as a sense-check. That being said, the technical question of how to “code” the flexibility of a standard into AV software was not entirely answered. 

Some participants also reminded the audience that human drivers do not have to “declare their intentions” before breaking the law, while AV software developers would have to. Should they be punished for that in advance? Moreover, non-compliance with the law – such as municipal ordinances on parking – is the daily routine for certain business models such as those who rely on delivery. Yet, there is no widespread condemnation of that, and most of us enjoy having consumer goods delivered at home.

More generally, as one participant asked, if a person can reasonably decide to break the law as a driver, does that mean the developer or programmer of AV software can decide to break the law in a similar way and face liability later? Perhaps the answer is to turn the question around – change the law to better reflect the driving environment so AVs don’t have to be programmed to break it. 

Beyond flexibility, participants discussed how having multiple motor vehicle codes – in effect one per US State – makes toeing the line of the law difficult. One participant highlighted that having the software of an AV validated by one state is big enough a hurdle, and that more than a handful of such validations processes would be completely unreasonable for an AV developer. Having a single standard was identified as a positive step, while some conceded that states also serve the useful purpose of “incubating” various legal formulations and strategies, allowing in due time the federal government to “pick” the best one. 

Panel II: Who Gets the Ticket? Who or What is the Legal Driver, and How Should Law Be Enforced Against Them?

The second panel looked at who or what should decide whether an automated vehicle should violate a traffic law, and who or what should be responsible for that violation. Further questions included – Are there meaningful differences among laws about driving behavior, laws about vehicle maintenance, and laws and post-crash responsibilities? How should these laws be enforced? What are the respective roles for local, state, and national authorities?

The participants discussed several initiatives, both public and private, that aimed at defining, or helping define the notion of driver in the context of AVs. The Uniform Law Commission worked on the “ADP”, or “automated driving provider”, which would replace the human driver as the entity responsible in case of an accident. The latest report from the RAND Corporation highlighted that the ownership model of AVs will be different, as whole fleets will be owned and maintained by OEMs (“original equipment manufacturers”) or other types of businesses and that most likely these fleet operators would be the drivers.

Insurance was also identified as a matter to take into consideration in the shaping up of the notion of AV driver. As of the date of the conference, AVs are only insured outside of state-sponsored guarantee funds, which aim to cover policy holders in case of bankruptcy of the insurer. Such “non-admitted” insurance means that most insurers will simply refuse to insure AVs. Who gets to be the driver in the end may have repercussions on whether AVs become insurable or not. 

In addition, certain participants stressed the importance of having legally recognizable persons bear the responsibility – the idea that “software” may be held liable was largely rejected by the audience. There should also be only one such person, not several, if one wants to make it manageable from the perspective of the states’ motor vehicle codes. In addition, from a more purposive perspective, one would want the person liable for the “conduct” of the car to be able to effectuate required changes so to minimize the liability, through technical improvements for example. That being said, such persons will only accept to shoulder liability if costs can be reasonably estimated. It was recognized by participants that humans tend to trust other humans more than machines or software, and are more likely to “forgive” humans for their mistakes, or trust persons who, objectively speaking, should not be trusted.

Another way forward identified by participants is product liability law, whereby AVs would be understood as a consumer good like any other. The question then becomes one of apportionment of liability, which may be rather complex, as the experience of the Navya shuttle crash in Las Vegas has shown. 

Conclusion

The key takeaway from the two panels is that AV technology now stands at a crossroads, with key decisions being taken as we discuss by large industry players, national governments and industry bodies. As these decisions will have an impact down the road, all participants and panelists agreed that the “go fast and break things” approach will not lead to optimal outcomes. Specifically, one line of force that comes out from the two panels is the idea that it is humans who stand behind the technology, humans who take the key decisions, and also humans who will accept or reject commercially-deployed AVs, as passengers and road users. As humans, we live our daily lives, which for most of us include using roads under various capacities, in a densely codified environment. However, this code, unlike computer code, is in part unwritten, flexible and subject to contextualization. Moreover, we sometimes forgive each others’ mistakes. We often think of the technical challenges of AVs in terms of sensors, cameras and machine learning. Yet, the greatest technical challenge of all may be to express all the flexibility of our social and legal rules into unforgivably rigid programming language.