• Level 2: Automation can conduct
some of the driving (like lane assistance and adaptive cruise control).
• Level 3: Driver can cede control over
some driving in some circumstances.
• Level 4: Fully autonomous under certain conditions.
• Level 5: Fully autonomous for all conditions (no steering wheel required).
Level 2 and 3 vehicles will most complicate fault determinations due in part
to the very concept of rotating responsibility between human and machine.
With Level 4 and 5 vehicles, the “driver”
is the vehicle itself. Thus, if the vehicle is
at fault, the claim would be based only in
product liability unless there is evidence
of independent negligence such as improper maintenance.
After determining the vehicle’s classifi-
cation, a major priority will be obtaining
data from the vehicle’s event data record-
er or “black box.” NHTSA recommends
all autonomous vehicles have a black box,
which often records information such as
speed, seat belt usage and braking. With
autonomous vehicles, there could be ad-
For example, after the fatal May 2016
crash involving a Tesla Model S with
“autopilot” (a Level 2 vehicle), the black
box showed that autopilot was engaged,
that the automatic emergency braking
system did not provide any warning
or braking, and that the driver took no
braking, steering or other actions to
avoid the collision. NHTSA ultimately
used this data to help reconstruct the
accident and found the Tesla performed
as designed, and both the vehicle and
the driver failed to respond to a cross-
ing tractor-trailer despite it being visible
for seven seconds before impact. Note,
however, that the NHTSA’s role is to
determine whether there is a defect ne-
cessitating a recall and not to determine
potential civil liability.
In addition to black boxes, some autonomous vehicles will use cameras as
component parts. Thus, it is plausible
that images may be available and efforts
should be made to retrieve them.
After obtaining any available hard data,
ideally the autonomous vehicle components should be inspected for pre-existing damage or improper maintenance.
Furthermore, the vehicle should be
checked to ensure any software updates
were downloaded. As an example of its
importance, four months after the fatal
Model S crash, Tesla wirelessly beamed a
software update into its vehicles that created new safety measures.
XLet Us Manage Your Licenses Xeneros will: • Reduce risk for invalid licenses • Lower compliance cost • Provide constant monitoring to ensure current licenses • Simplify license acquisition & renewal processes • Navigate state by state requirements 855-XENEROS • (855-936-3767) • www.xeneros.net