Automation and robotic technologies have popped up in Volokh Conspiracy posts several times during the last few years – drone aircraft, autonomous or highly automated weapons, nursing and eldercare assistance machines and, of course, self-driving cars. So I’m pleased to announce that Bryant Walker Smith, a leading expert on automation and the law, will be guest-blogging this week here at Volokh Conspiracy – on self-driving cars, and automation technologies and their regulation more broadly.
Bryant is a fellow at both Stanford Law School’s Center on Internet and Society (CIS) and Stanford’s Center for Automative Research (CARS). I first met him at a Stanford conference where he presented a CIS report giving the only genuinely comprehensive analysis of the whether a self-driving car would be legal under the law of each of the 50 states, the federal government, and the Geneva Convention you have never heard of – on driving automobiles. He trained and worked as a civil engineer before studying law, and his academic writing focuses on torts, technology, legislation and regulation, as well as international economic and environmental law.
Apart from the CIS report, Bryant has also written a number of straightforwardly academic law review articles (he is on the law teaching job market this year, and is a lecturer at SLS, where he teaches a class on self-driving vehicles and the law). Particularly interesting to me (in part because it is counterintuitive to some understandings of automation technologies and traffic management) is “Managing Autonomous Transportation Demand” - it suggests that genuinely successful automation might increase demand for driving and hence put greater, not lesser, pressure on road systems and traffic management; it applies a set of engineering concepts to make recommendations about how such demand, if it were to materialize in this way, might be managed efficiently.
Bryant will be blogging this week on the latest developments in vehicle automation, while connecting them to larger issues in law and public policy. Among other things, he will consider a category of truly driverless car that has been largely ignored in public discussion, share his thoughts on early regulatory efforts, and discuss whether environmental analyses should account for automation. Finally, he will preview a paper to be published in Georgetown Law Journal on the tort law implications of greater connectivity across a range of modern consumer products. Please join me in welcoming Bryant to the Volokh Conspiracy for the week.