Jeffrey L. PostonBrandon C. Ge

On June 15, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill that explicitly allows self-driving cars on the state’s roads and highways, regardless of whether a human is physically present. While there was no ban on driverless cars, Texas law did not explicitly permit them either. This created a grey area of the law that fueled apprehension among manufacturers about testing self-driving cars in Texas.

Senate Bill 2205 allows driverless vehicles to operate in the state as long as the vehicle is:

  • Capable of operating in compliance with state traffic and motor vehicle laws;
  • Equipped with a recording device;
  • Equipped with an automated driving system that complies with applicable federal law and federal motor vehicle safety standards;
  • Registered and titled in accordance with Texas law; and
  • Covered by motor vehicle liability coverage or self-insurance.

With the new law, Texas joins a growing list of states that officially permit driverless cars on public roads, setting up the stage for the eventual rollout of autonomous vehicles to consumers. But while the technology has remarkable potential, it also raises significant privacy and security concerns. Autonomous vehicles are data-gathering machines and may log historic and real-time geolocation data, which will likely be highly coveted for its ability to reflect individuals’ lifestyles and purchasing habits. Cybersecurity is another major issue – for example, how will collected data be stored or transmitted? In addition, vulnerabilities may allow hackers to hijack and steal self-driving cars or interfere with their safety.