Self-Driving Cars: A Conversation with James Anderson and Allen Biehler

Self-driving cars are in the news, on the road, and, potentially, the future of driving. Sensors, cameras, and advanced computers currently on vehicles aim to prevent driver error, a frequent cause of accidents. Fully autonomous vehicles will take these technologies a step further, but their integration will require careful consideration by both policymakers and road safety experts. What are the advantages and risks of this technology in terms of congestion, safety, land use, and environmental impact? How can policymakers encourage the safe adoption of self-driving cars? And what are the legal and liability implications of taking the driver out of the equation?

Featured Speaker

James Anderson is a senior behavioral scientist at the RAND Corporation and a faculty member at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. He is working on projects on the appropriate role for criminal law in regulating business conduct, improving the use of forensic evidence, the effect of regulating medical marijuana, and the policy implications of autonomous vehicle technology. He is the lead author of the RAND report Autonomous Vehicle Technology: A Guide for Policymakers and presented findings from the study to congressional and private-sector audiences on Capitol Hill.

Allen Biehler is a distinguished service professor of transportation systems and policy at Carnegie Mellon University's Heinz College. He is also the executive director of CMU's University Transportation Center, which aims to study, build, and deploy a targeted suite of complementary technologies and to inform policies to make surface transportation safer and more efficient. He previously served as secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and as president of the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials, following which he cofounded the State Smart Transportation Initiative, a program to help state departments of transportation pursue sustainable practices.


Susan M. Sohler Everingham is the director of RAND's Pittsburgh office. As a senior operations research analyst and a professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School, she specializes in cost-benefit analyses and mathematical modeling with a particular focus on defense, security, criminal justice, and violence prevention policies.