Liability and Regulatory Oversight of Semi-Autonomous and Autonomous Vehicles

32 Pages Posted: 3 Mar 2022 Last revised: 30 Aug 2023

See all articles by Amin R. Yacoub

Amin R. Yacoub

New York University School of Law

Date Written: February 23, 2022


Since 2020, Tesla, Inc. became one of the most successful vehicle manufacturers in the world. What once was a dream has become a reality: vehicles autonomously driving themselves with almost no human intervention. More importantly, Tesla vehicles are fully electric – cutting back on non-renewable energy consumption. Upon their market release, Tesla vehicles have gained a lot of popularity. YouTube videos of Tesla drivers showing off the auto-pilot technology garnered millions of views. Ironically, compilation videos of Tesla crashes have gained even more views. Put simply, Tesla’s new semi-autonomous vehicle (“AV”) technology had directly caused the death of at least ten people and the injury of 24 others by swerving into the wrong lanes or even off the road. While the medical inventions are subject to scientific peer-review and a rigorous regulatory pre-approval by the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”), no corresponding regulatory agency exists to review AV technology in vehicles like Tesla that might have an adverse impact on human safety. Thus, this article assesses the personal and product liability of autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles to determine if the current torts law is sufficient to apply on futuristic automobile accidents. Finally, this article proposes conferring a regulatory authority upon the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) to review emerging technologies such as AV vehicles before they are released to the public.

Keywords: law and technology, Tesla, liability, autonomous vehicles, tort law, negligence, insurance

Suggested Citation

R. Yacoub, Amin, Liability and Regulatory Oversight of Semi-Autonomous and Autonomous Vehicles (February 23, 2022). Boston University journal of Science and Technology Law, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: or

Amin R. Yacoub (Contact Author)

New York University School of Law ( email )

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