Autonomous Vehicles (AV) will soon introduce dramatic changes in American life–in its economy and its society. Transportation systems, urban planning and infrastructure, citizen safety, data privacy, cyber-security, and the industrial base will all be affected. The pending arrival of AV challenges many of our nation’s basic working arrangements, laws, and societal relationships. It will raise a plethora of ethical and legal issues and challenge governments’ ability to anticipate, adapt, and govern.

The truly disruptive transformation to driverless vehicles is outrunning our national and state governments capacity to timely and adequately legislate and regulate. The AV Start Act, which unanimously cleared the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation in October of 2017, was the first piece of AV legislation introduced to allow for more testing, deregulation, and federal preemption on AV design, construction, and performance. The bill is still stalled in the Senate as special interests groups are making the topic increasingly partisan. Major issues like data privacy and cybersecurity are not even in the bill and must be taken up subsequent to AV Start’s passage.

Purdue Discovery Park and The Howard Baker Forum hosted an expert roundtable on Capitol Hill on January 25, 2018 examining the legal, ethical, and societal issues facing autonomous vehicles. Thought leaders from the private sector, academia, trade associations, and government took stock of the industry and discussed the legal, ethical, social, and legislative implications of a driverless future.