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The specter of driverless vehicles has been hovering around us for years now.  Big-time tech companies have been pouring millions of dollars into research and development of the systems that will allow robotically piloted machines to safely ferry people and goods across publicly-accessible roads, sidewalks, and even in the air above us.  Now, thanks to a new bill that already been signed into Louisiana law, we may be seeing these little droids in our state very soon.

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According to a report from the National Law Review, Louisiana’s Senate Bill 147 was signed into by Governor Edwards earlier this year.  This new piece of legislation outlines the rules, regulations, and requirements for the safe and legal operation of these systems in our corner of the world.

The subject of self-driving vehicles is a hotly debated one, and at the center of that controversy is the question of responsibility.  As in: Who is responsible for damages if/when one of these robots causes an accident that results in injury or death?  To that end, lawmakers added provisions such as insurance requirements for these delivery devices.  Companies that use this tech in Louisiana must carry at least $100,000 in insurance coverage for each unit.

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The law also states that these machines will not be allowed to go faster than 20 miles per hour, and that speed is capped at 12 mph for residential areas.  They will also be required to yield to pedestrians, they cannot obstruct traffic, and will have to be lit up like a Christmas tree for visibility.

Photo by Tristan Fewings/Getty Images for Just Eat

It's worth noting at this point the vehicles outlined in the new law are for delivery only.  Driverless vehicles with human passengers are a completely different, and much more complicated, ball game.  With the complexity of this issue, it remains to be seen if this endeavor will bring a brand new level of convenience to our lives - or will end in a flurry of lawsuits.

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