The German government is drafting legislation to permit the use of Level Four autonomous driving technology on public roads, according to the country’s Minister for Transport and Digital Infrastructure Andreas Scheuer.
As laid out in our guide to self-driving cars, Level Four autonomy denotes the capability to safely navigate almost any on-road circumstance without the need for any driver intervention.
In an official statement posted online, Minister Scheuer said: “Germany will be the first country in the world to bring autonomous vehicles from its research laboratories onto the road.
“I am very pleased that the cabinet has cleared the way for our law on autonomous driving … The German government aims to bring the laws into regular operation by 2022, meaning that within 12 months there could be driverless cars operating,” he added.
However, such technology – at least initially – will reportedly be restricted to certain vehicles travelling in predetermined “zones.”
#HeuteImKabinettWir holen autonome Fahrzeuge auf die Straße - mit den nötigen Sicherheitsstandards! ? Das Kabinett hat dem Referentenentwurf zugestimmt. Dieser regelt das vollautomatisierte Fahren der Stufe 4 & macht autonome Autos + Busse in festgelegten Zonen möglich. ? pic.twitter.com/byDMjevYmw— BMVI (@BMVI) February 10, 2021
Toby Walsh, Professor of Artificial Intelligence at the University of New South Wales, told CarAdvice the decision is not without risk, but ultimately represents a step in the right direction.
“Driving itself is already a very dangerous activity – people die on the roads every single day but eventually, because of autonomous cars, that hopefully won’t happen as much. We just need to find the best and safest way to roll out the technology, and the Germans – being German – have been very pragmatic about it.”
As for the future of the technology in Australia, Mr Walsh wasn’t holding his breath: “Just like with electric cars, we’re way behind the curve here.”
“Personally, I can’t wait for them to arrive. I hate driving, I think it’s a waste of time, and it’s dangerous,” he added.