Law Student Co-Authors Automated Vehicle Policy Brief

February 16, 2018

Alex Antonio2L Alex Antonio

The summer following his first year of law school, 2L Alex Antonio worked with transportation experts to co-author his first legal research publication, a policy brief addressing new legislation necessitated by new inventions titled “How Does Texas Law Change the Legal Landscape for Automated Vehicles?

The Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) researches and provides solutions to transportation problems. Antonio was first introduced to TTI during his Civil Procedure class taught by Texas A&M School of Law Professor Paul George, an expert in civil litigation and transportation policy. 

“Professor George worked with TTI last year when I was a student in his class. He talked about the work that TTI did, and I thought it sounded like a fascinating intersection between technology and law. This was appealing to me due to my background in engineering,” said Antonio, who has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. 

Antonio began to work with TTI as a research assistant. During his research, he discovered that new legislation was needed for new transportation inventions.

“I have always been interested in areas of law that incorporate emerging technologies. However, I had never considered all of the different policy implications involved with a new technology like automated vehicles,” said Antonio.

automated vehicle at TTITest subject from Texas A&M University's Automated Vehicle Safety Research Program

How Does Texas Law Change the Legal Landscape for Automated Vehicles?” provides a detailed comparison of how Texas law compares with other states’ laws. During Antonio’s research, he gained a vast amount of legal knowledge coupled with knowledge on new transportation inventions.

“This research allowed me to be very well-versed in a new and exciting area of law. Because automated vehicles are so new, there are not very many statutes governing the vehicles. It was interesting to see the approaches of different states, and how states have evolved in governing these vehicles. It was also interesting to learn what issues states govern and what issues fall under the federal government's jurisdiction,” said Antonio. 

Antonio said his comprehensive research with the TTI was highly satisfying. “I am proud of how broad this paper is in comparing how states have decided to govern automated vehicles. We were able to analyze every state statute or executive order in the country that governs automated vehicles,” said Antonio.

Antonio’s co-authors were Ginger Goodin, Director of the Transportation Policy Research Center at TTI, and Gretchen Stoeltje, a TTI researcher.

Antonio is also grateful for his law professor’s guidance. “Professor George was a great resource in writing this paper. He was one of the final reviewers of the paper and was able to provide great legal insights in his review,” said Antonio. 

Antonio also utilizes his technical background in the Texas A&M Law Patent Clinic, ​helping clients prepare, file and prosecute applications for patent protection in the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO).

After law school, Antonio plans to work as a patent prosecutor.

- Article by Tyra Kelly, Communications Specialist, Texas A&M University School of Law