Innovation and Technology

Automated driving

Technological advancements on the road to automation are already showing up today in modern vehicles, which are increasingly equipped with driver assistance systems (DAS).

Automated driving

Technological advancements on the road to automated driving are already showing up today in modern vehicles, which are increasingly equipped with driver assistance systems (DAS). Driver assistance systems represent an electronic system built into the vehicle. It supports the driver in his or her driving tasks by informing, warning and – if designed to do so – actively intervening to regulate driving events. The driver must specifically activate or deactivate the system. But driver assistance systems can also be overridden by the driver at any time. Due to improved detection of their surroundings and situational analysis, these systems are growing ever-more powerful; a high degree of automation is possible in assistance functions. Automated driving functions improve traffic safety and simplify the flow of traffic.

The German automobile industry has come to a unified understanding for the levels of automation in an expert panel. These definitions are oriented towards the results of the BASt working group “Legal consequences of increasing vehicle automation”.

Systems that permit the assisted (supporting lane holding and lane changing) and partially automated (driver-supervised lane holding and lane changing) driving are already available on the market today. In a few years, the fi rst vehicles with appropriate sensors, actuators and information processing to permit the functions of high and full automation for specific application scenarios will be available. In these vehicles, not only the use of automated driving functions but also conventional driving will be supported, since assistance functions based on existing vehicle systems can also take effect outside automated driving mode.

Studies and market research indicate that society’s need to be “always on” leads to frequent use of mobile devices during driving. Future driver assistance systems with higher levels of automation can be the basis for safe use of Internet-based functions in the car. With an automated system, the need for the driver to check the vehicle continually may be partly or even entirely eliminated. The associated customer advantage will go a long way towards bringing the modern technological components of driver assistance systems into widespread use.




In this context, it is necessary to examine and adjust legal background conditions, since current legislation always assumes the driver is actively controlling the vehicle. In addition to further technological development, therefore, the parallel further development of national and international legislation is necessary to keep pace with the state of the art and future trends.

From the standpoint of vehicle approval, primarily the UN/ECE Directive “ECE-R 79 Steering and Braking Systems“ must be adapted, since active steering intervention is currently ruled out above a speed of 10 km/h. From the standpoint of traffic law, it must be considered to what extent national and international regulations will need adjustment for automated driving. The first step must be to adapt the “Vienna Accord Governing Road Traffic” of November 8, 1968 (WÜ). This international accord is the basis for national traffic regulations (such as the German StVO), but it reflects the technological state of the art of its times. The VDA therefore supports the adaptation and clarification of the Vienna Accord. The use of driver assistance systems, including highly or fully automated systems, should not constitute violation. Once the accord is appropriately adapted, the next step will be to bring the national traffic regulations in the different treaty states into alignment.

The globally active automobile industry continually strives to create internationally harmonized legal conditions. Given the existence of single-nation initiatives outside Europe, the introduction of highly automated driving functions in other markets seems probable. In addition to their influence on traffic safety, it is also important to make use of the economic potential in Europe and in Germany. The VDA actively supports the Transportation Ministry’s “Round Table for Automated Driving” to create the basis in Germany for the introduction of automated driving functions on the road to automation.

From the point of view of the German automobile industry, the introduction of highly automated driving functions for specific application cases will take place incrementally. Highly automated driving functions can initially be expected for autobahn travel or traffic jams. Technological progress and the integration of additional information sources (such as V2X technology or back-end information via cellular networks) will gradually permit the expansion of the field of activity of highly automated driving functions.

One significant task is to inform the driver of required status information transparently and unambiguously. Systems are designed to detect the limits of their own range of effectiveness (for example, the technical limits of components, environmental conditions outside their design limits) during driving in the highly automated driving mode and clearly inform the driver (visually, haptically and acoustically) with sufficient advance warning that he or she can resume the driving task. The driver/vehicle infrastructure is designed to allow the driver specific offerings in the vehicle only with the highly automated driving functions active. They are not available during travel controlled by the driver.

Graham Smethurst
Graham Smethurst Head of Co-ordination Unit Networked and Automated Driving

Tel: +49 30 897842-426 Fax: +49 30 897842-7426
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