As autonomous vehicles get closer to hitting the road, proponents of the technology say automakers may need new protections from legal liability.

Industry insiders are worried about lawsuits over product liability, negligence, foreseeable harm, patent encumbrance and design defects, according to C-Net, once self-driving vehicles officially are on public highways. Experts on autonomous vehicle technology gathered to debate legalities surrounding the topic at a robitics conference held last week in California. During the conference, which was hosted by Stanford University, papers were presented on the risks, factors and theories that could have an effect on autonomous driving.

“The longer it takes for this technology to reach the market, the more people die,” Josh Blackman, a law professor at the South Texas College of Law.

Some states like California and Nevada have led the nation in autonomous vehicle regulation laws. Nevada approved rules for driving self-driving cars in early 2012 and California gave the OK at the beginning of this year.

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