Germany Mulls Mandatory Black Box for Autonomous Cars

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  • The industry & regulators face ample pressure to ensure safety
  • Germany proposed self-drive cars come fitted with a black box
  • It will allow authorities to determine responsibility during an accident

The fatal accident involving a Tesla Model S has caused many to question the safety offered by such technology. The automotive industry and its regulators face ample pressure to assure that autonomous technology can be used without evident risks to passengers' safety. To that end, Germany is ruminating a new legislation that will require cars equipped with autonomous driving function to come fitted with a black box. Sources from the country's transport ministry told Reuters that manufacturers of cars with said function will be needed to install black boxes that will eventually allow authorities to determine responsibility in the event of an accident.

Tesla isn't the only manufacturer with 'autonomous driving' technology in its arsenal - scores of automakers are working tirelessly on their own variation of autonomous technology, including German giants Volkswagen, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz.

Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt's proposal stipulates that though drivers don't have to concentrate on the road or pay attention to steering, they must remain seated at the wheel so they can intervene in the event of an emergency. Additionally, manufacturers will be required to install a black box that will record the following:

a. When the autopilot system was engaged

b. When the driver drove

c. When the system requested that the driver take over

The proposed legislation is currently a draft that will be sent to other ministries in the country for approval later this summer. Though it can't be guaranteed if the proposal will make the transition into law, but it does set an example for authorities across the globe that are looking at means to regulate autonomous technology.


(With inputs from Reuters)

© Thomson Reuters 2016

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