Global companies are racing to develop semi- and fully autonomous vehicles but Germany may slow things down.
According to Retuers and German newspaper Handelsblatt, the country’s Minister of Transport is proposing legislation that would require a “black box” for these vehicles as well as rules for what a driver can and can’t do behind the steering wheel.
Under the proposal, automobile manufacturers would be required to install an Event Data Recorder (EDR) – also known as a black box – that records when the autonomous system was active, when the driver was controlling the vehicle, and when the system requested that the driver take over.
The aim of the legislation is to provide a means for investigators — read insurance companies — to more easily determine the fault of the accident; was it the autonomous system or the driver?
In a world where Pokémon Go is at wide play, the data is important because auto accidents aren’t always the fault of the autonomous system.
Car companies aren’t the only targets of the proposal.
Part of the draft rules read: “The operator will be responsible for monitoring the safe operation of the vehicle at all times, and must be capable of taking over immediate control in the event of an autonomous technology failure or other emergency.”
German car manufacturers view self-driving car technology as a huge market opportunity, and are investing heavily in both electric and automated car technology.
In April, Chancellor Angela Merkel indicated that the issue was important to the country and said the industry should draw up a “wish list” of what it needs to move forward, ideally with a timetable.
The pending German legislation follows a string of autonomous vehicle crashes, including the fatal crash of a Tesla vehicle being operated in semi-autonomous Autopilot mode in May.
Tesla has repeatedly stated that its Autopilot software is still in development and is not intended to be used as a hands-off-the-steering-wheel fully autonomous function.
A proposed draft law is expected to be sent to other ministries for approval this summer, Reuters reported.