German pole position

    Germany is the first country to have legislation on autonomous driving. We are thus well on the way toward playing a pioneering role in this future technology. What you need to know about autonomous driving.

    Germany is the first country to have legislation on autonomous driving. We are thus well on the way toward playing a pioneering role in this future technology. What you need to know about autonomous driving.

    Where we are today

    Technical progress already allows a high degree of automation.

    With automated driving, drivers activate the system as desired and do not have to monitor it permanently. They are thus able to relax and in certain circumstances are prompted to take over the driving in good time

    With autonomous, driverless driving, a driver no longer needs to monitor the system. Driving on different routes is possible without driver intervention. The vehicle is fully capable of performing the driving entirely on its own on all types of roads, at all speeds, and under all environmental conditions. The system masters the task in every situation. The passenger has no driving-related tasks but could take over the controls if the vehicle concept provides for this.

    The use of autonomous shuttles in local public transport and in passenger and freight transport opens up opportunities to significantly improve mobility services in urban and rural areas. Further potential applications for autonomous driving can be found in the various mobility sectors, including public transport, service and supply trips, or use cases in logistics, and also in private individual transport with vehicles that have autonomous driving functions. Dual-mode vehicles may be used, for example, for such functions as automated valet parking (AVP) in the private sector or autonomously driving trucks in hub-to-hub freight transportation.

    The different use cases for autonomous driving can be realized by different and individual technical implementations. The technical solution may consist of both in-vehicle and external system components.

    Automated valet parking: One of the first driving functions in production

    Due to technological progress, today's vehicles have an increasing number of intelligent driver assistance systems. Thanks to evolving sensor technology, as well as improved and new system architectures in conjunction with high-performance algorithms, a high degree of technological automation can already be achieved. The increase in networking with other vehicles, road users, and infrastructures allows coordinated planning of driving maneuvers and rapid response to unexpected events. This leads to safer and more-efficient mobility. Driverless driving and parking are important building blocks for this.

    Automated valet parking will be one of the first autonomous driving functions in series production. Systems currently on the market already offer various functions that make parking in difficult situations more convenient. However, the driver is still responsible for the parking process. Automated valet parking, however, is a fully automated parking system: The driver drops off the vehicle at a designated area, and the vehicle drives itself – i.e., driverless – to an assigned parking space. When the driver wants to pick up the vehicle again, they signal this via an app, for example, and the vehicle then drives itself to a pick-up area.

    For the driver, AVP means a gain in time and convenience, stress-free parking, and a huge decrease in potential parking bumps. For the garage or parking lot operator, it means more efficient parking space utilization, increased safety, additional offering of customer services, and optimized traffic flow.

    The world's first law on autonomous driving


    In addition to technological developments and prerequisites, legal and regulatory aspects play a decisive role in the implementation of autonomous driving.

    Initially, it should be possible to use autonomous vehicles in pre-defined operational areas. Germany is thus creating the legal framework for various use cases in the different mobility sectors, such as public passenger transport, private individual transport with dual-mode vehicles, and logistics.

    Worldwide, no other nation or region has yet created fully comprehensive legal conditions for automated and connected driving. With the "Act Amending the Road Traffic Act and the Compulsory Insurance Act – Act on Autonomous Driving," Germany is the first country to create the basis for placing autonomous systems on the market (type approval) and operating them (compliance with traffic regulations) in specific operating areas. Automated driving is enabled in different environmental conditions, on highways, in urban areas, and out of town for different vehicle classes and body types.

    Basis for international legal framework

    The aim of this national regulatory framework is the rapid establishment of innovative technology, functionalities, and services in Germany. The regulatory framework thus offers Germany the opportunity to act as a technology driver. The present national regulatory framework can form the basis for a future European and international legal framework (UNECE). We support a corresponding rapid transfer.

    In particular, the use of autonomous shuttles in local public transport and in passenger and freight transportation opens up opportunities to significantly improve mobility offerings in urban and rural areas – also locally emission-free, with competitive overall operating costs and flexible transport capacities.

    Next step: Technological conditions

    For this implementation, however, the industry also needs the technical framework. The existence and practicability of an ordinance on the approval and operation of motor vehicles with autonomous driving functions in pre-defined operating areas (Autonomous Vehicles Approval and Operation Ordinance, AFGBV) are further prerequisites for the introduction of the new approval process for autonomous vehicles.

    In addition to the technological and legal issues, the interaction between vehicles and people represents an important line of action. Driver and interior condition recognition, ergonomics and passenger information, human-machine interaction, as well as bidirectional, intelligent external communication between the environment and humans are the important topics here.

    Nor will developments stop here. New technologies will enable new services. Standardization will continue to support this process with the creation of norms covering technical requirements, interchangeability, and safety, to enable automated driving functions to be safely and efficiently integrated in real road traffic.

    Coordination Unit for Networked and Automated Driving

    Henry Kuhle

    Team Lead

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