CMS Expert Guide to Autonomous Vehicles

After an initial wave of euphoria at the prospect of seeing autonomous vehicles (AVs) on our streets and the associated opportunities and new business models that AVs could create, there is now more realism as to what will actually be possible in the short term. One of the main reasons for this shift is the immensely high cost of making self-driving technology ready for the market and for mass production. There are also no internationally recognised, uniform rules or regulations currently governing the circumstances for using AVs on public streets. This adds further complexity to their development and roll out. So while self-driving technology promises a range of benefits for business and society as a whole, significant challenges remain to be overcome on the road to mass adoption. At the very least, legislators need to make sure that the existing regulatory framework does not act as a barrier to technological development in this area.

This CMS Expert Guide brings together analysis from legal experts across our international network on the legal requirements that must be observed for testing and using AVs at different levels of automation (by reference to the industry recognised SAE Level 1-5 standard). It also provides an overview of the liability landscape when it comes to AVs and information on whether there are special liability regimes in place for AVs in the different jurisdictions covered by the Expert Guide.

Our analysis shows how differently the complex problem of liability for damages caused by a car in automated driving mode is solved in different jurisdictions. For example, in Germany the existing liability regulations for road traffic are applied, which have been supplemented with special regulations for AVs. In the UK, on the other hand, legislation for AVs has been passed (the Automated and Electric Vehicles Act 2018), which extends the UK’s existing compulsory motor insurance framework to the AV as well as the driver. This means that where an accident is caused by an AV on a road or other public place in Great Britain, insurers will be liable for death or personal injury or any other damage arising from the accident (apart from damage to the vehicle itself).

We hope you find the Expert Guide helpful for your business.

How we can help

At CMS, we are passionate about technology and deeply experienced in advising businesses in the automotive sector. AVs are a key focal area for our market-leading automotive technology practice. We work closely with businesses at the cutting edge of new developments, and our CMS Autotech Group combines specialist lawyers from across our international network. This means we can support clients on the full array of legal issues that might arise, and we can provide support on a multijurisdictional basis. Please get in touch if you would like more details on how we can help your business.


The information contained in this Expert Guide is for general purposes only and does not purport to constitute legal or professional advice from CMS or any other firm and as a consequence may not be relied upon.