German Government adopts draft law for automated driving

On 25 January 2017, the Federal Cabinet adopted a draft law amending the Federal Road Transport Law (StVG) to create regulations for highly or fully automated driving systems in motor vehicles. The draft law can be found here (German, PDF).

The purpose of the draft law is, inter alia, to enable vehicles with advanced automated systems to be used on public roads.

The law defines the concept of a motor vehicle with a highly or fully automated driving function and, among other things, defines the duties of the driver when using such systems.

According to the draft law, highly or fully automated driving functions are to be characterized by the fact that they are designed to cope with the driving task (including longitudinal and lateral guidance), after activation by the vehicle driver, and can take over the driving task. But the system can be oversteered or deactivated at any time by the vehicle driver. In contrast to the autonomous / driverless driving, one cannot do without a vehicle driver.

At the same time, the maximum liability limit of the vehicle owner shall also be increased in the case of accidents caused by such vehicles due to a system failure. The existing maximum amounts are to be increased by 100 per cent.

A section VIa “Data processing in the vehicle” is to be inserted into the StVG. It is a legal duty to install a “blackbox” into vehicles already at the manufacturer’s side, which must record certain data for the use of highly automated or fully automated driving functions. The reason for this blackbox is to be able to be show, whether the driver or the system were in charge of the driving task. In the event of a claim, these data must be forwarded to third parties (e.g. other persons involved in the accident) if certain conditions are met.

The data to be recorded by the integrated memory must be recorded separately from other data. Detailed regulations on the data storage, including the technical form, are to be made in legal regulations in the future. The necessary configuration of the storage function shall be regulated in corresponding (international) technical provisions. An amendment to UN/ECE Regulation No. 79 (Regulation No 79 of the Economic Commission for Europe of the United Nations (UN/ECE) – Uniform provisions concerning the approval of vehicles with regard to steering equipment) is currently under way.

In its draft law, the Federal Government is assuming that the required blackbox in vehicles with automated systems will entail higher production costs.

The draft law is characterized as particularly urgent by the Federal Government. The intention is certainly to pass the final law in the coming months, before the federal elections in Germany in September 2017.

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