A bill by the federal ministry of transport for the introduction of automated driving is to regulate that cars will in future be able to park in parking garages or underground garages "at low speed" without a driver. Technically, this has long been possible, as audi and bmw demonstrated some time ago. What was missing was a legal basis from the legislature. One is now on the way, however, this is probably only a beginning. Because many things still remain unclear.
German transport minister alexander dobrindt (csu) wants to make new systems possible that will allow cars to park without a driver at all. The law will stipulate that drivers of computer-controlled cars will be allowed to "turn away" from traffic and control of the car at certain stages. But they must remain "perceptive" in order to be able to take over again in case of emergency.
The draft, which is now to be voted on in the federal government, lays down further legal requirements for liability. A kind of black box in the vehicles is to record when the computer has steered and when the human has. The data are to be allowed to see the police with controls, however not completely, but only in the "necessary mab". This should also apply to accident opponents, if there has been a collision. In general, data in the storage medium must be deleted after three years.
In order to create legal certainty, duties of care are also to be regulated. Accordingly, it is not considered negligent if a driver "turns away" during the automated journey. However, this must not be perfect. Furthermore, a "minimum level of attention" is required in order to be able to take control again after a signal from the computer.
However, at least in the current status, many questions remain unanswered. It has not yet been defined exactly what the legislator means by a minimum level of attention and how this is to be measured in cases of doubt. The time span in which a driver must be able to intervene is also still unclear. There is still a need for clarification until the law is ready, but this is normal at this stage. The presented document is a draft – no more, no less.
Of course, it is also possible to take a different position on these points. According to current plans, the driver will not be liable for accidents caused by the automated system. Instead, the liability insurance of the vehicle owner will apply as before. If this regulation would become law, the raised questions could be solved by themselves. But the insurance companies will certainly take a very close look at how liability is regulated.
To ensure that the development of computer-controlled cars progresses, dobrindt is also counting on testing new technologies on the road. In addition to a test field on highway 9 in bavaria, trials are planned in at least six german cities: hamburg, munich, ingolstadt, braunschweig, dresden and dusseldorf. An ethics committee on the subject is also planned. The expert panel is to develop guidelines for algorithms according to which cars react in risky situations.