Rooftop Law School: The Trolley Problem, Law, and Autonomous Vehicles

April 29, 2020 2 min read
rooftop law school trolley problem law autonomous vehicles

If you told me three to four years ago when I started this company that in 2020 there would be no autonomous regulations across the state and federal level, I would have been surprised. — Qasar Younis

On April 22, Ironclad held its first virtual Rooftop Law School on the regulatory and ethical challenges of autonomous vehicles with Applied Intuition, a startup providing simulation software and infrastructure to test autonomous systems.

Our panelists included:

  • Qasar Younis, CEO at Applied Intuition, and most recently the COO at Y Combinator. Before his current role Qasar had founded another startup that was acquired by Google Maps and also worked as an automotive engineer at GM and Bosch.
  • Matthew Colford is currently a JD/MBA candidate at Stanford, where he is a Knight-Hennessy Scholar. Prior to that, he was General Manager and Head of Policy at Applied Intuition.
  • Antonio Perez is a legal engineer at Ironclad. Previously, he was a transactional attorney based in New York City, where he advised governments, banks, and other institutional lenders on leases and purchase agreements involving global transportation assets.
  • James Honsa is a legal engineering manager at Ironclad. Previously he was at Dropbox, a customer of Ironclad as a Senior Analyst on the Commercial Legal Team.

Hear what the panel discussed regarding various jurisdictions and how companies are approaching the ethics of autonomous driving. Watch our on-demand video.


  • Ethical Issues Around Autonomous Vehicles (AV) – 6:08
  • Testing AV Sub-decisions – 11:43
  • Past Case Law and AV Jurisdictions – 20:56
  • Issues Framing the AV Discussion – 24:33
  • Federal Government Should Own Jurisdiction Over Autonomy – 28:01
  • Case Law and Product Liability – 32:05
  • Regulatory Structure to Improve Safety – 40:10
  • How to Counter Bias in Technology – 43:20
  • How to Achieve National Safety Clearance – 48:24
  • Future of AV – 53:44

There’s zero case law around autonomous vehicles, specifically around the liability issues that exist. There’s plenty of case law around automotive product liability.  — Matthew Colford

What is Rooftop Law School?

Designed for lawyers and non-lawyers, Rooftop Law School is an Ironclad tradition where we nerd out on legal issues of the day over beer and pizza. If you’re passionate about a particular piece of case law or legislative issue and would like to lead a future session, please email us at

More about Ironclad

Ironclad is the leading digital contracting platform for legal teams. By streamlining contract workflows, from creation and approvals to compliance and insights, Ironclad frees legal to be the strategic advisors they’re meant to be. Ironclad is used by modern General Counsels and their teams at companies like Dropbox, AppDynamics and Fitbit to unlock the power of their contracts data. Ironclad was named one of the 20 Rising Stars as part of the Forbes 2019 Cloud 100 list, the definitive list of the top 100 private cloud companies in the world. The company is backed by investors like Accel, Sequoia, Y Combinator and Emergence Capital. To learn more, visit our homepage.

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