Continental demands legal change to enable automated driving

July 07, 2014 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
If carmakers and suppliers are right, not technology but the legal situation today is the main roadblock for automated driving. The industry now demands a regulatory framework that enables the cars to take the control at the wheel.

The Vienna convention of 1968 as well as United Nations regulation UN-R 79 stipulate that the driver is in command of the vehicle unless the speed is less than 10 kmph. To make highly automated driving functions like traffic jam assist or emergency steer assist possible, the legislation should be adapted to the new situation, demanded Continental Automotive R&D top executive Christian Senger on during the 'Suppliers Innovative' industry meeting in Munich.

Senger called the recent modification of the Vienna convention a 'first success'. This modification creates the legal preconditions for partially automated driving. "However, in terms of legislation we still are miles away from highly automated driving", he said. The industry roadmap provides for such functions starting in 2020. To remove the legal roadblocks, lawmakers should start activities to pave the way now, Senger demanded. He added that automated driving functions will reduce the number of traffic accidents and fatalities.

Article 8 of the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic specifies that the driver must maintain permanent control of the vehicle. This limitation was amended, however, in March 2014 in response to the increasing automation of vehicle systems. Automated systems are now permitted as long as they can be overridden or deactivated by the driver. This has established the legal foundation for partially automated driving since control of the vehicle may now essentially be assumed by systems as well.

The Vienna convention has been signed by most EU member states including Austria and Germany as well as by Russia, Brazil, South Africa and Turkey. The United Kingdom, Spain, the US, Canada China and Japan are among those countries that have not ratified the convention.

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