Artificial intelligence, autonomous drones and legal uncertainties

Jacques Hartmann*, Eva Jueptner, Santiago Matalonga, James Riordan, Samuel White

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
60 Downloads (Pure)


Drones represent a rapidly developing industry. Devices initially designed
for military purposes have evolved into a new area with a plethora of
commercial applications. One of the biggest hindrances in the
commercial developments of drones is legal uncertainty concerning the
legal regimes applicable to the multitude of issues that arises with this
new technology. This is especially prevalent in situations concerning
autonomous drones (i.e. drones operating without a pilot). This article
provides an overview of some of these uncertainties. A scenario based
on the fictitious but plausible event of an autonomous drone falling from
the sky and injuring people on the ground is analysed from the
perspectives of both German and English private law. This working
scenario is used to illustrate the problem of legal uncertainty facing
developers, and the article provides valuable knowledge by mapping real
uncertainties that impede the development of autonomous drone
technology alongside providing multidisciplinary insights from law as well
as software electronic and computer engineering.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-48
Number of pages18
JournalEuropean Journal of Risk Regulation
Issue number1
Early online date3 Aug 2022
Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 2023


  • drones
  • aviation
  • autonomous
  • tort


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