Germany to legalise automated driving technology that allows “eyes-off” the road

Germany wants to be in the forefront of Autonomous driving (testing and deployment) ahead of the U.S. therefore it is amending the German Road Traffic Act (Straßenverkehrsgesetz, StVG) to allow domestic car manufacturers, which already are closer to L3, to deploy their systems in the market.

Level 3 (SAE) vehicle automation represents a milestone in Autonomous Driving because when these features are active they can take over the monitoring task enabling drivers to take their eyes-off the road. But the driver must always be available to takeover, since he/she are the ultimate back-up.

Today, even the most innovative ADAS systems for driving and parking, such as Mercedes’s Drive Pilot, Tesla’s Autopilot and BMW’s Remote Control Parking are classified under SAE’s definition as Level 2-Assistive. This means, that they can assist but cannot substitute the driver who must always be in control.



L3-Conditional automation to be legal in Germany from Sep’17 requiring EDRs-AD and compliance with UN regs

It is expected that this legislation will pass Parliament before federal elections in September 2017, a timeline that aligns with the introduction of the L3-Traffic Jam Pilot from Audi in the 2018MY A8.

The amendment of national traffic laws, together with the amendment of international Reg.79 which is on the way, will open up the road for hands-off L3 (but not L4 yet). However, many issues remain open, e.g. driver reqs, EDR L3 specs, etc.

Deployment of L3 in Germany would be possible under the new framework coming into force Sep’17, but also provided that systems are compliant with UNECE regulations (e.g. Reg.79 or an exemption is granted) and EDRs (for L3) are fitted for accident reconstruction and claims.

EDR requirements for L3 are immature yet, with more information is expected to come before the finalisation of the law. Minimum requirements from the German draft law include recording of lateral control, system active status, and handover requests for accident reconstruction and insurance claims. Data must be available to relevant road traffic authorities upon request, as well as to any third party. From conversations with Tier 1s, we understand that EDRs for TJP are probably developed in-house by other OEMs rather than in collaboration with suppliers.

Audi to get a head start, other leading premium German OEMs and Tesla to follow

This gives an advantage to Audi since the brand’s launch date for L3-TJP with the new 2018MY A8 is in line with the law coming into force in Sep’17. Audi’s system will probably be categorised as ACSF B2 (+C?) but we expect the brand to use EU’s Article 20 to get an exemption for the new technology.

Audi TJP

We expect that other German-based OEMs which are technologically closer to L3 will also benefit, with BMW and Mercedes-Benz being the obvious candidates. Tesla will also benefit since it claims that it is close to L3 (Self-driving functionality). However, the company has been asked by the German government to change its Autopilot naming to avoid customer confusion and misuse/abuse.

The transition from driver-centric regulation to Automated Driving Systems is necessary for the deployment of higher levels of vehicle autonomy

The problem arises from the fact that vehicle regulation and national traffic laws have been developed with the driver in mind, i.e. driver in control. From a technological perspective, we have now reached the point where in certain markets the amendment of regulation is needed to allow Automated Driving Systems to take conditional and eventually full control of the driving task and monitoring of the road.

At the same time, national traffic laws might need to change to accommodate the new driving conditions, e.g. allow the complete absence of driving controls for L4/L5 or driver for L5. Amendments are in progress, to allow the driver to be ‘’out of the loop’’.

But will there be regional inconsistences between what’s legal given that the regulatory landscape in the U.S is different than the rest of the world’s major car markets?

To read more about Autonomous Driving regulation check our report Roadmap to Self-Driving Cars. For more information on this report, including sample pages and full Table of Contents, please contact us on (+44) (0)20 3286 4562,

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