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Self-Driving Cars Should Be Regulated Like Drugs

That’s what two AI professors in Pittsburgh suggest. Can a “clinical trial” approach to autonomous vehicle safety work?
No hands! One of Uber's self-driving vehicles out for a spin in San Francisco.
No hands! One of Uber's self-driving vehicles out for a spin in San Francisco.Eric Risberg/CityLab

Now that self-driving cars have moved beyond mere speculation and are roaming the streets of Pittsburgh, among other places, federal and local officials are busily trying to figure out how to regulate them.

During a recent conference in Washington, D.C., Paul Lewis, vice-president of policy and finance at the Eno Center for Transportation, talked about how local and regional governments can lead the way in this mobility revolution. What’s needed, he said, are policies “that both protect public safety and bring some accountability to this rapidly changing environment while still enabling the technology to bring the benefits.” But, as December’s spat between San Francisco authorities and Uber’s self-driving fleet indicates, the regulatory road ahead could be a rocky one.