The University of Michigan Law School’s Law and Mobility Program (LAMP), a resource for scholarship about the legal implications of emerging transportation technology with a particular focus on connected and automated vehicles (CAVs), hosts an annual conference. The topic of the LAMP Annual Conference 2023 considered how we might reimagine transportation technology in a way that combats the systemic vulnerabilities that leave certain populations more likely to experience forced labor. This topic was selected because there are multiple lenses through which to consider the transportation equity outcomes for users, industry workers, and society at large; forced labor is just one metric. This point is twofold. First, this question matters in particular because transportation touches everything people do from shipping goods to commuting to work to recreational activities to community development. Second, the automobile industry, as was discussed during the conference’s first panel, has an enormous global footprint with many layers within the supply chain, making it a great example for other industries to consider environmental, social, and governance (ESG) challenges in their own contexts. There are many notable historical examples of the impacts of emerging transportation technologies on labor conditions and access to dignified employment, and paying attention to the lessons learned from those outcomes may help policymakers better anticipate the equity outcomes of regulatory decisions.

After articulating why this topic is important in the transportation technology space, LAMP researchers identified four categories through which to understand the research. The categories are organized by population and include, 1) people working in the raw material and mining sectors harvesting the relevant materials to construct the technology such as cobalt and copper; 2) people working in the transportation industry in United States such as transit operators, truck drivers, and mechanics; 3) the user of the emerging transportation technology in their commute to work, and; 4) the nonuser community member whose access to employment or daily commute may be radically altered in an attempt to accommodate new technologies such as changes to bike lane, sidewalks, increased urban sprawl, or public transit routes. The type of analysis for each category varied. At the conference, the first and fourth panels explored many historical examples and existing law and policy tools, while the second and third panels identified questions and theoretical frameworks through which to best understand the needs of the communities.

Part II of this report will explain the methodology of this research and summarize the original literature review that was used to shape the conference format. Parts III through VI will present the findings of each respective panel. Finally, part VII will conclude with recommendations and lessons learned.