by Marc Scribner
Competitive Enterprise Institute
April 28, 2014
Google’s self-driving cars have now logged a total of over half a million miles. Autonomous vehicles—also known as driverless cars—promise to dramatically reduce human error, which is a crash factor in over 90 percent of auto accidents. This has the potential to save tens of thousands of lives annually, significantly reduce traffic congestion and air pollution, and offer greatly improved transportation access to traditionally mobility-impaired populations, such as the disabled, elderly, and youth. But regulatory and legislative intervention also poses great risks to the development of the technology. In particular, laws and regulations that narrow the scope of permissible development, testing, and operational functionality risk locking in inferior technology, delaying adoption, and increasing prices faced by consumers. Lawmakers and automakers should adopt a liberalized approach toward innovation and a cautious stance on legislation and regulation.