The Future Of Mobility And Shifting Risk


The way we travel today is changing. We share rides. Cars park themselves. Driverless cars are being tested on public roads. When artificial intelligence and automation take more control over the operation of vehicles, they upend conventional wisdom about liability. As our mobility behavior changes, so too will the way we think about risk and exposure.

Road users deserve a voice in the conversation many in industry and academia are having about the future of mobility and how safe this new world will be. As the end users of driverless cars, and the people most directly affected by the risks associated with them, individual consumers must be part of the debate. They are the voters who decide whether to support autonomous vehicle testing grounds and regulatory pilot programs that allow for experimentation. They will sit on juries to decide how to allocate liability when accidents inevitably happen. And they will evaluate government and industry responses should a cyber breach occur.

The constant in this change is that risk will not simply disappear. It will shift, largely from human to machine, blurring the lines between personal and commercial risks. What is not clear is where the exposure will lodge itself or how quickly it will move. Is it between auto manufacturers, software developers, and parts manufacturers? Perhaps the road construction companies and local governments responsible for infrastructure that “speaks to” vehicles? The communications providers, or a new enabling technology not yet invented? Answers to these questions will be debated for quite some time. Responses will vary by experience and may be informed by age and colored by geography and cultural disposition. No doubt perceptions will evolve over time. This paper begins to plot that journey. Included where relevant is an analysis of perceptions of 1,000 road users in the United States, 400 in Singapore, and 400 in the United Kingdom.

The overall idea of risk shifting with the future of mobility, poll questions, and analysis were carefully vetted by experts at Santa Clara University School of Law, Professor Emeritus Robert Peterson and Professor Dorothy Glancy. We are grateful to their years of studying this topic, and for their feedback that has enriched this analysis.

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