Aleksandr Ig. Zemlin, Anton Al. Torshin. Characterization of unmanned cars in the context of tort obligations

UDK: 347.4:623.746.4

Aleksandr Ig. Zemlin - Doctor of law, professor, head of the department ‘Transport Law’ of the Law Institute of the Russian University of Transport, honored scientist of the Russian Federation

Anton Al. Torshin - post graduate of the department ‘Civil law, International private law and Civil procedure’ of the Law Institute of the Russian University of Transport

Abstract. The authors of the current paper have analyzed the features of unmanned vehicles as a means of damage in the context of tort obligations. The rapid improvement in unmanned technology has posed a number of legal challenges for Russian tort law. Meanwhile, in the domestic doctrine, this topic has not been given much attention. The lack of developed theoretical approaches to taking into account the features of unmanned vehicles does not contribute to the legal certainty, which is necessary for the full development of the industry in Russia. In the paper, there has been introduced criteria for distinguishing unmanned vehicles from cars with a lower level of automation, and have also established the differences between unmanned vehicles that are important in the context of civil tort liability. As a criterion for distinguishing unmanned cars into an independent category, the paper has identified the qualitative characteristics of the automatic driving system which such a car is equipped with. In order for a car to be classified as unmanned, its automatic driving system must be capable of independently performing all driving tasks (under certain or any conditions of normal use). At the same time, the authors have concluded that an unmanned vehicle is a special means of tort liability. The key differences between an unmanned vehicle and a “low-automated” car for these purposes are the ability to make decisions instead of a driver in a difficult road situation and the lack of complete clarity and predictability of such decisions from the point of view of the developer of the automated driving system.

Keywords: unmanned vehicle; highly automated vehicle; fully automated vehicle; causing harm/damage; civil liability; tort liability.


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