Are autonomous cars even legal?

-CONSUMER REPORTS, 31 MARCH 2016, FEAT. PROF. BRYANT WALKER SMITH:

When each state wrote its driving laws, a car that drove itself wasn’t a consideration. Back in 2012, University of South Carolina assistant professor of law Bryant Walker Smith took on the daunting task of reading the traffic codes in every state to find legal provisions that could complicate or prohibit self-driving cars.

He basically found only one, a provision in New York state that says, “no person shall operate a motor vehicle without having at least one hand … on the steering mechanism at all times when the motor vehicle is in motion.”

Beyond that, Smith said he found pretty much zero unambiguous red flags, prompting him to title his research paper “Automated Vehicles Are Probably Legal in the United States.” And even that New York law, he says, is open to interpretation because it could be argued that, with a self-driving car, no “person” is actually driving it, so therefore there is no conflict. <Read More>