Whether you call Las Vegas home or just like your odds when you visit, we’ll wager you can afford whatever legal fees from technology business attorneys in Nevada you might need—and the gamble on the $70,000+ car itself—when Tesla rolls out its next big thing in 90 days. The next big thing that may or may not be legal in the U.S: Tesla is making its Model S drive itself.
While the idea isn’t new, and several companies—Google, Audi, Nissan, for example—have already begun testing on American roads, the fact that Tesla’s newest feature will operate with an auto-steering function “that will make the cars largely autonomous on the highway” may be jumping the gun, legally speaking, in most of the U.S.
While technology business attorneys would be aware that Nevada laws do speak to some sort of legal driverless cars, in the Silver State, it’s only legal if you’ve got a special license and registration. But that rule “only applies to cars sold in the state.” Only thirteen other states have any statutes on the books at all governing how automated vehicles can be tested, but Tesla’s releasing this new feature so soon that it’s not even testing it in the U.S. It’s going straight for the consumer market.
And since “the rules regulating self-driving cars are a mess” in America, and since several technology business attorneys in Nevada and elsewhere might be forced to concur with the reality that “this is America, whatever’s not illegal is legal,” Tesla might—just might—be able to pull off slipping that Model S in under the radar and getting out onto our streets sooner than Google or Nissan or Audi or any strict rule-following companies might have dreamed.
Okay then, so exactly what does the Model S steering function do? The claims it makes “are pretty basic:” it shouldn’t do more than keep the car within its lane at an appropriate speed, taking into account the speed limit by reading road signs and “using active, traffic aware cruise control.” It’s auto-driving feature is only meant for highway driving, and it can let you change lanes with the “the simple tap of a turn signal,” according to a released statement from Tesla last fall.
That doesn’t sound too dangerous. All the features of the automated functions of Model S make the “expectation that when autopilot on the Model S is enabled, that you’re paying attention.” Let’s cross our fingers that “drivers” will be.
But business attorneys in Nevada familiar with the intersection of the automobile and advanced tech industries know only too well that “the cars could be kicked off the road if regulators aren’t thrilled with the idea of autonomous vehicles roaming the country.” Still, our bet is that if you can afford to spend nearly $100k (or more) on a car that has a decent chance of getting legally garaged, permanently, you’re probably pretty thrilled about taking that risk in the first place.