Autonomous Nissan Leaf, front three-quarter view.

Here's the line to remember: "As robots become mainstream, lawmakers will have to grapple with how to govern machines and hold software accountable." That comes from a New York Times piece on what kind of legislation will be needed to deal with the inevitable accidents that autonomous vehicles will get into. The lawyers, naturally, will go after everyone with money, but who do the authorities charge when a self-driving car parks itself in a no-parking zone, and who will the jury hold responsible when it rolls the wrong way down a one-way street and, heaven forbid, injures or kills someone?

The academic world has already begun devoting white papers and test tracks to the subject, but it will be up to our elected leaders to – hopefully – start filling in some legally binding answers before the hard questions get asked in court. The earliest projections figure we have six years until autonomous cars drive themselves onto dealership lots, but once they show up, healthy public trust could make them quite popular. Head over to the NYT to read the piece and start thinking about who'll have to clean up the mess when you hear the phrase, "You have 20 seconds to comply..."