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Autonomous Driving

A new generation of vehicles is emerging that are connected and increasingly autonomous. This technological revolution is set to change how society functions, improving safety and efficiency, as well as reducing congestion and emissions.

Companies hoping to take advantage of the opportunities associated with connected and autonomous vehicles must consider a wide range of legal issues, regulatory challenges, data protection and security, technology standards, intellectual property (IP) ownership and liability concerns. 

Automotive manufacturers and suppliers, as well as established and start-up tech companies, are devoting considerable time, resources and strategic investment into the development of autonomous vehicles.

The shift towards connected and autonomous vehicles presents huge opportunities for the automotive and technology sectors. It is thought that the estimated global market will be around US$900 billion by 2025*. By this time, all new vehicles produced will be connected and more than 75% will have reached level 3 autonomy where the driver does not need to monitor the dynamic driving task all the time.

* Source: IHS Automotive

The advent of this new technology also brings about a myriad of legal, regulatory and public policy concerns. For instance, with respect to safety concerns, human error is the cause of 93% of road traffic accidents, with 1.3 million fatalities and 50 million injuries globally every year. Experts estimate that replacing human drivers with capable technology will substantially decrease collision rates and save thousands of lives.

Our global practice is well positioned to address the full range of autonomous vehicle concerns including communications and data protection, product liability, cybersecurity, infrastructure, insurance, tax and IP. 

With a diverse mix of capabilities and experience across a broad range of practice groups and jurisdictions, we can address the regulatory, public policy, legal and technological implications resulting from the autonomous vehicles evolution. 

Why Choose Us

  • Experts in the field, which include the former US Secretary of Transportation in the Clinton administration, Rodney Slater, at the forefront of helping some of the key players in the industry to shape their policies and their approach to autonomous driving, as well as navigate the opportunities and pitfalls
  • Internationally renowned product liability practice with extensive experience in evaluating risks on a global basis and advising clients on product defects and specific risks posed by autonomous vehicle technologies  
  • Preeminent public policy and regulatory practices with global experience in the automotive industry and in-depth practice knowledge of safety and compliance issues, along with policy centers in Washington DC and Brussels  
  • Dedicated automotive and transportation sector teams that have provided decades of cross-disciplinary legal services to automotive manufacturers, tier 1 and 2 suppliers, technology companies, distributors, traders and logistics companies around the world
  • Representation of a broad range of technology companies, from start-ups to established multinationals
  • Diverse mix of capabilities and experience across a number of practice groups that can address the full range of legal, regulatory and public policy implications resulting from the autonomous driving evolution

We provide cross-disciplinary legal services to businesses across the world, advising them on a variety of matters and transactions.

We are thought leaders and regularly lead forums and discussions in key markets, such as San Francisco and Washington DC, which bring together the leading companies that are changing the industry.  

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Product Liability

We have extensive experience in automotive products liability work, advising clients around the world on product defects and specific risks posed by autonomous vehicles technology, such as cyberattacks to take control of the vehicle and failure of technology to recognize danger.

We have successfully defended many of the world’s largest companies in cases involving catastrophic bodily injury, property damage or economic loss allegedly caused by defective products and devices or exposure to toxic substances.

We regularly represent clients by acting in the role of global, national and regional coordinating counsel on mass action, multidistrict litigation, cross-border and individual lawsuits. Our broad footprint allows us to provide clients with a unified defense and thorough insight into theories of liability, scientific and medical experts, the national plaintiffs’ bar in the US and claimants’ counsel in Europe, as well as judges and courtroom procedures in jurisdictions across the globe.

  • Global automotive manufacturer − Advising on product liability matters around the world. Counsel in relation to emissions liabilities and risk management and advising on policy planning for issues associated with autonomous vehicle technology.

Public Policy and Regulatory

Our team provides strategic counsel to international clients on a wide range of regulatory matters. For decades, we have represented companies in the automotive sector on Capitol Hill, including on some of the highest-profile issues affecting the industry. Our advice ranges from providing insights into transportation regulations in various locations, to the specifics of evolving regulatory approaches being considered as this sector transforms. We have been involved in a number of high-profile internal investigations and independent monitorships, overseeing safety and compliance efforts.

  • Major German multinational automotive company − Advising on analysis of federal and state regulatory and liability issues and data privacy and cybersecurity associated with US release of vehicle with autonomous driving capabilities.
  • Multinational corporation and technology company − Advising on policy and regulatory engagement with the federal government to ensure public safety and compliance with respect to autonomous driving.
  • Japanese automotive company’s North American affiliates − Leading the independent North American Quality Advisory Panel and acting as compliance counsel on quality and safety issues.

Data Privacy and Cybersecurity

Big data and data analytics are driving new in-car technology and commercial opportunities, but in turn create some challenging legal questions regarding how consumers’ data is being used and how and why it is being collected, stored and processed.

Our team works across borders and practice groups to deliver comprehensive and strategic advice and counsel on autonomous vehicles and includes lawyers who have served as privacy heads to leading automotive manufacturers. We have partnered with automotive manufacturers’ autonomous vehicles teams to address the privacy and cybersecurity issues and effectively manage risk during the design process. We work with our clients to identify risks associated with new technology and mitigate with appropriate controls. 

  • Technology developer, car transportation and food delivery company − Advising on a range of data privacy, cybersecurity and risk management issues.

Communications

Our team has unparalleled experience in the area of intelligent transportation systems (ITS), having written and spoken across the globe on legal issues associated with ITS deployment and represented clients in policy and adjudicatory proceedings before regulators.

  • Principal trade association for ITS in the US – Providing legal counsel on various matters.
  • Vehicle radar manufacturers, digital mapmakers, traffic information providers, standards bodies and government authorities − Advising on a wide array of issues involving the deployment of connected and autonomous vehicle technologies.
  • Intellectual ventures spin-off company − Advising on the testing of antenna for satellite-based internet connectivity for enhanced driving and autonomous vehicles.

Corporate

We are well known for handling automotive transactions, from multibillion-dollar cross-border M&A deals, to joint ventures, expansions and other strategic transactions. Staying in front in the rapidly changing technology landscape requires advisers that move quickly to help you recognize and seize acquisition, joint venture, partnership and licensing opportunities the moment they arise.

Our team provides comprehensive legal services spanning all aspects of complex local, cross-border and multijurisdictional corporate matters. Our automotive transaction team is supported by lawyers around the world with deep expertise in all relevant practice areas and a proven record of rapidly resolving issues to keep deals on track.

We understand the unique risks associated with transactions in the autonomous vehicles space, including addressing liability for safety, data security or the special challenges of doing transactions with new technology companies that do not yet have a proven track record.

  • M&A team of one of the world’s largest automotive suppliers − Advising on various autonomous vehicle-related transactions.
  • Leading automotive supplier − Advising on a wide range of corporate matters, including a series of M&A transactions that transformed the company into a leading pure-play automotive electronics manufacturer.

Insurance

We offer comprehensive services to insurance industry participants and guide clients in the autonomous driving space on relevant issues across highly specialized, global product lines. Because of our global footprint, we are able to represent our clients’ interests in almost every region of the world, including many of the world’s most dynamic markets.

Infrastructure and Public Finance

Autonomous vehicles will require local, state and federal governments to update signage, speed limits, signal timing, roadways and parking spaces. Our global Infrastructure Practice guides clients in the planning, development and deployment of major transportation projects, including major highway projects and the smart highways of tomorrow.

  • Number of public-private partnerships in the transportation space − Supported the partnerships, including acting as co-bond counsel to the conduit bond issuer for the New York Transportation Development Corporation.

Intellectual Property

As technology in cars increases in importance to the value of the vehicle, new threats are emerging to the traditional automotive manufacturer’s business model. The long-term growth and success of organizations in the autonomous driving space depends on protecting and productively using IP. Automotive manufactures are filing more patents than ever before to protect their position in the market. Our team is well positioned to help organizations integrate IP into their business plans and execute them effectively.

Commercial

Connected vehicles will need to be interacting and sharing information with many providers of traffic management services and a myriad of other information services. Virtually all providers of mechanical components that are used in the drive of a vehicle will need to invest in the development of electronically enabled components that can be incorporated into the connected vehicles of tomorrow. The development and sale of connected vehicles is already opening up a vast array of new commercial opportunities.

Our team is advising vehicle manufacturers on entering into new contracts with the providers of all manner of applications and IT-enabled components along with the providers of cellular, platforms, cloud, data center and data evaluation services that will be required to support the connectivity between all connected vehicles.