New autonomous driving law enters into force in Germany

The new law on autonomous driving approved by the German government came into force on 28 July, creating the legal framework so that autonomous vehicles (level 4) can drive in regular operation in specified operating areas in public road traffic – nationwide.  

This law brings vehicles without a driver from research into everyday life, with the aim of introducing autonomous driving functions into regular operation by 2022.  

The law seeks to provide for the maximum number of application scenarios and is therefore marked by flexibility. The different application cases are not definitively regulated in advance and the biggest limitation is that autonomous driving can only take place in a defined operational area. For example, individual permits and the presence of a safety driver always ready to intervene are not required.  

The scenarios include, among others:  

  • Shuttle services from A to B  
  • People movers (buses that are travelling on a specified route) 
  • Hub2Hub movements of goods ( for example, between two distribution)  
  • Demand-oriented offers in off-peak times
  • The transport of people and/or goods on the first or last mile  
  • Dual-mode vehicles” such as Automated Valet Parking (AVP)  

The law regulates the following issues, among others:

  • Technical requirements for the construction, quality and equipment of motor vehicles with autonomous driving functions  
  • Examination and procedure for the issuing of an operating license for vehicles with autonomous driving functions by the Federal Motor Transport Authority 
  • Regulations with regard to the obligations of the people involved in the operation of vehicles with an autonomous driving function  
  • Regulations relating to data processing when operating vehicles with autonomous driving functions  
  • Enabling the (subsequent) activation of automated and autonomous driving functions of already type-approved vehicles (“sleeping functions”) 
  • Furthermore, adaptation and creation of uniform regulations to enable testing of automated and autonomous vehicles 

The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure will evaluate the effects of the law after the end of 2023 – especially with a view to the developments in the field of autonomous driving and the updating of international regulations as well as the compatibility with data protection regulations.   

International Legislation  

The autonomous driving law is considered by Germany as an interim solution until there are harmonised regulations at international level. With a view to harmonised markets and standards, Germany has expressed a great interest in creating superordinate rules, and the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure has announced that it will work resolutely for the legal framework at EU – and UNECE level. 

Source: BMVI


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