Unmanned vehicles may someday become commonplace in transportation, in industry, and for a wide variety of applications. Just as automobiles and trucks displaced the horse, unmanned vehicles may become the mainstay for transporting cargo, and autonomous vehicles may displace human-driven automobiles and trucks. When unmanned and autonomous vehicles become commonplace, the legal system will need to address liability arising from the accidents that will occur with the use of these vehicles. With its sophisticated system of product liability statutes, doctrines, and guidance, the law of unmanned vehicles in the US may have worldwide influence on the scope and nature of unmanned vehicle liability.
Stephen S Wu is a partner in the Silicon Valley, California law firm Cooke Kobrick & Wu LLP, where he practices business, technology, and intellectual property law. He served as the 2010-2011 Chair of the American Bar Association Section of Science & Technology Law. In addition, he is a lecturer at law teaching technology law at Santa Clara Law School.
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© 2011 Journal of Law, Information & Science and Faculty of Law, University of Tasmania.