The SDVs Are Coming! An Examination of Minnesota Laws in Preparation for Self-Driving Vehicles

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The SDVs Are Coming! An Examination of Minnesota Laws in Preparation for Self-Driving Vehicles

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Minnesota Journal of Law, Science, and Technology




Self-driving vehicles (SDVs) are predicted to be the future of automotive transportation. The significant potential benefits of SDVs to safety, congestion reduction, land use, and productivity are hard to ignore. Although fully automated vehicles are still a ways away, the technology is rapidly advancing and becoming more legally accepted. For example, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) requires all newly manufactured cars to have at least a low-level of autonomous vehicle technology and suggests widespread adoption of more advanced technology by 2020. Four states and the District of Columbia have some form of legislation expressly allowing SDVs or the testing of such vehicles within state boundaries. In fact, two states—California and Nevada—have even issued comprehensive regulations for both private use and testing of SDVs. Several companies, most notably Google, are aggressively pursuing the technology and advocating for legal changes in support of SDVs. But what does this all mean for Minnesota drivers, laws and lawmakers, and local economies? This Article explores the development of SDVs and related technology and how states have responded to this development as context for more substantive discussion about why and how Minnesota might move to adopt and adapt to this transformative technology. Specifically, this Article will explore how current laws may already permit SDVs and how the law could be, or in some cases must be, modified to authorize testing and use of SDVs in the state. Finally, this Article will describe why SDVs and the related legal changes needed to support their development and adoption can greatly benefit Minnesota’s citizens and economy.



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Peck, Spencer; Fatehi, Leili; Douma, Frank; Lari, Adeel. (2015). The SDVs Are Coming! An Examination of Minnesota Laws in Preparation for Self-Driving Vehicles. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

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