Transport Tech 

Germany to require ‘black box’ in autonomous cars

The fatal crash of a Tesla Model S car on self driving mode has increased the pressure on auto makers and regulators to ensure that automated driving technology can be deployed safely and to find ways of determining accountability in the event of a crash. To that end the German government is set to pass new legislation requiring all cars equipped with self-driving features to include a black box, similar to those required on aircraft.

Under the proposal from Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt, all automakers will have to install a recording device that tracks when autopilot is active, when it has been disengaged, and when the driver is being asked to take over control.

The law also requires that drivers remain seated at the wheel so they can intervene in the event of an emergency. However, it also puts a significant amount of weight on what’s expected from autonomous systems, specifically mentioning that the person behind the wheel is not required to pay attention to traffic or concentrate specifically on surrounding traffic.

The draft is due to be sent to other ministries for approval this summer.

Tesla is one manufacturer that already keeps logs of its Autopilot semi-autonomous driving system. The functionality is still in Beta, however, and the company requires its drivers to keep their hands on the wheels and pay attention to the road even when the car is driving itself.


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