Autonomous Cars

Self-Driving Cars Cause Legal Roadblock

Audi A7 self drive
Look, no hands. The automated Audi A7 will take you there.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    German carmakers fear being left behind if the government can’t settle legal issues soon.

  • Facts


    • The 2015 International Motor Show, the IAA, takes place from September 17-27 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany.
    • The IAA is the world’s largest motor show.
    • The federal government and state of Bavaria will sign an agreement this month on turning the A9 highway into a digital test area.
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Digitalization should be the theme of the 2015 International Motor Show (IAA) this September in Frankfurt am Main. The networked car of the future will run by itself, with low noise and low emissions, smoothly avoiding traffic and collisions.  It is designed to do away with many of the hassles of driving today and make car travel as pleasant as taking the train.

Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt believes self-driving cars can strengthen Germany’s position as a business leader in innovation. To that end, his ministry has developed a strategic plan to get German roads ready for that future, the “AF 2020” plan.

Mr. Dobrindt belongs to the Christian Social Union, the Bavarian sister party of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union. He had hoped the government’s cabinet would approve the 2020 strategy in time for this year’s International Motor Show.

There is just one hurdle:  the unsettled legal questions that arise when cars will increasingly drive themselves. For example, should the driver be allowed to cede control of the car to an on-board computer? And who is liable when there’s an accident?

Experts from the transport and justice ministries have been wrangling over these issues for months.

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