Law School Partners with State to Investigate Updates to Maryland Laws to Allow Autonomous Vehicles

Prof. Will Hubbard

This year, the law school embarked on a joint project with the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA) to investigate updates to Maryland law to support the safe deployment of connected and automated vehicle (CAV) technology. Existing laws related to vehicles typically assume that key decisions regarding the operation and maintenance of a vehicle are made by a human, and these laws therefore may be poorly suited to governing vehicles that operate autonomously. Such laws threaten to undermine the future adoption of CAV technologies in Maryland. 

To complicate matters, many diverse areas of law potentially relate to vehicles, including transportation, insurance, criminal, environmental and business law. With the emergence of CAV technologies, some states have revised certain key portions of their laws, but this “patchwork” approach to legal reform can lead to legal inconsistencies, enforcement difficulties, and unintended effects. As such, MDOT SHA and Baltimore Law have launched a comprehensive audit of all Maryland statutes and regulations relevant to automated driving. 

The team at Baltimore Law is led by Prof. Will Hubbard, director of the law school’s Center for the Law of Intellectual Property and Technology. Three additional professors will spearhead the effort – Prof. Michele GilmanProf. Nancy Modesitt, and Prof. Colin Starger — while six law students will support the project as research assistants: Taylor Bayat, Michael Blanchard, Christian Coward, Nyari James, Sina Jahanshahi and Molly Shaffer

The project will conclude in February 2022 with recommendations for changes to Maryland laws necessary to pave the way for safely deploying CAV technology in Maryland. 

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