There was a time when self-driving cars seemed like nothing short of fantasy, but with growing technology, not only is a self-driving car a reality, it may happen in the near future. Google, starting as nothing more than a search engine, has begun to creep into every part of our life, and its next target is getting behind the steering wheel.
Google’s self-driving car division called Alphabet, announced that it is nearing the realm of reality and is so close that they have actually initiated their own team of lawyers. The self-driving project was created by general counsel running through Google, but now is branching out on its own. The X portion of Google is the place where all “experimental” projects lie, and that is where the self-driving initiative has resided up until now.
Google spokesman announced this week that they hired Vosen, a lawyer who has worked for the Climate Corporation for the previous eight years. Monsanto acquired the Climate Corporation in 2013 to the tune of $930 million. It is a data company that originally gave counsel to farmers to make financial decisions to increase their profitability. Vosen, until recently, was the chief counsel and auto accident lawyer Santa Ana, handling all the legal affairs of the company, including litigation, strategic transactions and any regulations that they may encounter.
Google insists that they will have a self-driving car available to the public by the year 2020, which is a hefty goal, but one that many are seeing doable. They have the intention of taking from concept car to reality in less than five years. Already having a CEO in place, as well as a Director, the only piece missing was counsel. With Vosen on board, there is no stopping the project from continuing to the final phase.
There is likely going to be many legal issues revolving around the self-driven cars. Although up until now, there were very few regulations or barriers to building it, thanks to the crash of a Tesla car last week and the resulting death and injury of passengers, those barriers may increase. Now that self-driving cars may be a reality, there is probably going to be a push in the industry for more stringent regulations, which is why Google has taken Vosen on board.
The US Department of Transportation released a report in March that outlined the potential of huge regulatory statutes in place. Replacing someone’s eyes, ears and foot behind the wheel to make life and death decisions for passengers, is not something that the government or car makers can take lightly. Taking away the control of human intelligence and putting in the realm of auto-pilot is likely to be met with heavy restraints and many needs to prove the safety of self-driving cars.
Up until now, the government had no reason to even consider the concept car. Without a prototype in existence, it was nothing more than an idea. That is all about to take a huge change. The Department of Transportation is set to make standards already about the guidelines not only to test the a vehicle and the technology driving it but how to test and regulate the vehicles once they are ready to make their appearance.
Vosen’s major hurdles shortly are going to be to prevent the slow down of the technology. He is going to have to work closely with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the DOT to ensure that they don’t put a halt to Google’s efforts to take the car out of the “concept” phase and put it into the hands of the consumer.
With no standards in place, Google is ripe to either work with the government or to be slowed down by regulations and standards. A huge undertaking, his experience, and gumption are what led him down the path to be the chief lawyer for the Google division of self-driving cars. It is in his hands to keep things moving at a quick pace while tempering it with meeting government safety standards and not stepping on anyone’s toes in the process. That is no short order.