Germany Legalizes Testing of Autonomous Vehicles on National Roads

It looks as if the topic of self-driving cars has taken another turn in Germany. The government recently legalized the testing of autonomous vehicles. That is quite a significant development for this industry, as Germany was a bit on the fence regarding this innovative technology. Moreover, it also means German automakers won’t have to export vehicles to the US anymore.

A Big Step For Autonomous Car Testing

It has to be said, testing self-driving vehicles comes with quite a few security concerns at all times. Moreover, not every country is equipped to provide a potentially safe testing environment right now. This may come to change in Germany over the coming years, though, as local lawmakers have legalized the testing of autonomous vehicles. This is a major victory for the car industry in Europe, and automakers will be more than pleased with this development.

Before,¬†German manufacturers were forced to export their cars to the United States. To be more precise, California is one of the only regions around the world where the testing of self-driving cars is somewhat legalized, although not officially until the end of 2017. Now that Germany has drafted a similar legislative proposal, these tests can occur within the nation’s own borders.

To be more specific, the German legislation allows companies to test self-driving cars on German roads. That is, assuming they adhere to some very strict requirements, including having a driver behind the wheel at all times in case of an emergency. Moreover, all vehicles need to be equipped with a black box to record the journey and log who is driving the vehicle at all times.

This latter part is of extreme importance when it comes to handling accidents caused by these autonomous vehicles. It does make a big difference whether the AI or a human was driving at that time. More specifically, if a human driver causes the problem, the German government will effectively hold the driver responsible. Should the AI cause an accident, the manufacturer will foot the bill.

All of this is an intriguing development for the autonomous vehicle industry as a whole. Considering Germany has quite a few car manufacturers who are all working on self-driving cars, these news will be music to their ears. That does not mean these companies will halt their tests in the US overnight, but it is always good to have more options on the table at all times.

Some people see the requirement about having a human driver behind the wheel at all times as a hindrance. That is not such a big problem by any means, though. It is possible German legislators may drop this requirement in the future, albeit that will not happen anytime soon. It will be interesting to see what the future holds for testing autonomous vehicles all over the world.

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