Germany Gives New Self-Driving Law the Green Light

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【Summary】Earlier this month, Germany approved new guidelines for autonomous vehicles, amending the German Road Traffic Act and building the framework to allow driverless cars to operate in the country.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    May 27, 2017 10:00 AM PT
Germany Gives New Self-Driving Law the Green Light

As more companies and automakers come out with autonomous vehicles, countries will have to look at their current driving laws and make some changes. The federal government in the U.S., for example, has released guidelines for companies and automakers looking to test self-driving cars. The guidelines outline how driverless vehicles should perform, but overall, the federal government is letting local states make their own rules on autonomous vehicles. 

Other countries, like Britain, are doing things a little different. A new bill called the Vehicle Technology and Aviation Bill clearly defines when the driver is at fault for an accident and explains how insurance companies will be required to cover autonomous cars. Germany has just entered the fray by approving new guidelines for self-driving cars. 

German Officials Give Driverless Cars The Go-Ahead

According to a report from, government officials in Germany amended the German Road Traffic Act earlier this month and set a new regulatory framework for autonomous vehicles to operate in the country. 

The move to set guidelines for autonomous cars, according to Matthias Wissman, president of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA), "represents a major step toward the use of highly automated vehicles on German roads," reports "Automated driving will make road traffic safer, more efficient and more convenient," Wissman added. 

Citing Reuters, claims that Germany's new legislation allows automakers to test driverless cars on public roads. Users, though, are required to be alert and ready to take control of the vehicle at all times. The new law aim, according to Automotive News Europe, looks to "eliminate logical inconsistencies" in traffic laws. notes a specific situation if a driver has a heart attack when behind the wheel of a self-driving vehicle, pointing out that the car can slow down and pull to the side of the road completely on its own. 

Self-Driving With Safety First

The bill also calls for the implementation of a data storage system that will record how the self-driving program is operating. The "black box," as claims, will offer legal security for automakers and consumers by providing evidence of malfunctions. 

Germany is home to some of the world's most iconic automakers, including Porsche, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi. Mercedes-Benz has already started to explore the world of self-driving cars and has plans to release driverless taxis on the road by 2020. According to Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt, Germany is a major hub of autonomous vehicles and is seen as "the biggest mobility revolution since the invention of the automobile." 

The new laws are in place to help automakers test their driverless vehicles, but to also ensure that an autonomous future is safe. Last October, a Tesla Model S crashed into a bus on a highway in northern Germany. The vehicle was allegedly in its self-driving mode, injuring the driver. By setting some guidelines in place, Germany is opening up its plans for an autonomous future.  


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