Tyler Larkworthy is a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania studying computer science and economics.
Driverless cars represent a technological innovation that is as fraught with potential legal and ethical issues as it is futuristic. Manufacturers and engineers working on driverless cars must meet numerous regulations to bring their products to market. But a pressing legal question remains: When a driverless car crashes, who is to blame?
A coherent regulatory framework for autonomous vehicles is lacking in the U.S. Only nine states and Washington, D.C. address driverless cars in any way in their laws, with most banning fully driverless vehicles. Only Florida allows truly driverless vehicles, that is, vehicles which move without an operator in the driver’s seat.  Florida law specifies, however, that a remote operator must still be able to take control of the vehicle in the event of an emergency. Forty-one states do not address autonomous vehicles in their legal codes, leaving the broad issue of the cars’ legality pending.