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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

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