Germany makes autonomous driving legally possible

The German federal government yesterday passed the ‘autonomous driving law’, the newspaper reports Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. This makes Germany the first European country to take this step. The legislation is a first step in allowing level four autonomous vehicles on public roads.

Germany already had regulations for autonomous driving, but this was only allowed with a special permit and in a demarcated environment, for example in an industrial estate. Under the new law, such a permit is no longer necessary and it will be possible to drive autonomously in Germany nationwide. For the time being, demarcated zones will continue to apply and the law only applies to level four autonomous driver assistance systems. This means that the car can in principle drive independently, but that there must still be a driver on board who can intervene in an emergency. Level 5, in which no driver has to be involved at all, is therefore out of reach for the time being. It is not yet known where the autonomous zones will be located and how big they are.

Ralf Brandstätter, Volkswagen’s CEO, responds enthusiastically on LinkedIn: “It is good and important that Germany is at the forefront of this. The task now is to implement the law quickly,” he says. Until 2025, Volkswagen will invest no less than € 27 billion in digitization, which also includes autonomous driving. Mercedes-Benz and BMW are also working hard in that area. German law is also welcome for a manufacturer like Tesla, which is currently fully committed to its factory in Berlin and the ‘Full Self Driving’ software. In the Netherlands, the legal framework is currently not that far enough to allow autonomous vehicles to enter the road without a permit. It is possible in our country to test autonomous vehicles, but consumers still have to keep their hands on the wheel.

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