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Abstract

Until recent years, it seemed so futuristic that the time would come when no drivers would be needed and cars would drive themselves. Today, the existence of so-called self-driving cars (in other words, autonomous or automated cars) and their participation in road transport is reality, and that raises countless legal and ethical questions.This study reviews the regulatory frames of these vehicles from several points of view. After the introduction to the international rules on road traffic, attention is given to the current legal provisions adopted in certain states of the USA since these states were the first in the world that attempted to create the legal basis for self-driving cars. After the review of selected American laws, the main tendencies of current and future European regulation will be presented. Among European states, the German regulation amended in 2017 will be examined in detail. Nevertheless, the recent regulatory tendencies of other countries (e.g. Hungary) will be reviewed as well .
1371
Прегледни чланак 656.1:614.8.084(094.2)
doi:10.5937/zrpfns52-19047
Ágnes B. Juhász, Ph.D., Assistant Professor
University of Miskolc
Faculty of Law
civagnes@uni-miskolc.hu
THE REGULATORY FRAMEWORK AND
MODELS OF SELF-DRIVING CARS*
Abstract: Until recent years, it seemed so futuristic that the time would come
when no drivers would be needed and cars would drive themselves. Today, the
existence of so-called self-driving cars (in other words, autonomous or automated
cars) and their participation in road transport is reality, and that raises countless
legal and ethical questions.
This study reviews the regulatory frames of these vehicles from several points
of view. After the introduction to the international rules on road traffic, attention is
given to the current legal provisions adopted in certain states of the USA since these
states were the first in the world that attempted to create the legal basis for self-driving
cars. After the review of selected American laws, the main tendencies of current and
future European regulation will be presented. Among European states, the German
regulation amended in 2017 will be examined in detail. Nevertheless, the recent
regulatory tendencies of other countries (e.g. Hungary) will be reviewed as well.
Keywords: self-driving vehicle, autonomous car, automated driving system,
Vienna Convention, GEAR 2030.
INTRODUCTORY THOUGHTS
Nowadays, more and more essays and publications analyse the regulatory
issues and various aspects of self-driving cars in a comprehensive manner.
1
In
* This research was supported by the project nr. EFOP-3.6.2-16-2017-00007, titled Aspects
on the development of intelligent, sustainable and inclusive society: social, technological, innovation
networks in employment and digital economy. The project has been supported by the European
Union, co-financed by the European Social Fund and the budget of Hungary.
1
See: Hilgendorf, Eric, Hötitzsch, Sven, Lutz, Lennart: Rechtliche Aspekte automatisierter
Fahrzeuge, Nomos, Baden-Baden 2015; Lohmann, Melinda Florina: Automatisierte Fahrzeuge im
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Ágnes B. Juhász, Ph.D., The Regulatory Framework and Models of Self-driving Cars (стр. 1371–1389)
order to create a regulation on self-driving cars, the mapping of the legal questions
raised by the appearance of these vehicles is essential. Among these questions,
liability issues are the most important. On the one hand, it shall be decided, if the
appearance of self-driving cars as innovative solutions requires the introduction
of new and special legal institutions or the existing civil law liability solutions can
be applied in a satisfactory manner for the compensation of damages caused by
these vehicles.
2
On the other hand, if a national legislator takes a stand on the
application of already existing liability constructions, it also shall decide which
person is obliged to provide compensation for the damage caused. This person
can be either the keeper or the driver of the car, if these are different persons.
Nevertheless, the driver’s liability raises further questions, since in the case of
using a totally automated system or mode, the driver does not actually drive and
does not exercise control over the vehicle. It also shall be answered whether the
liability is strict or fault-based, i.e. established with regard to the driver’s conduct.
Moreover, it is also questionable how the liability of the producer of the self-driv-
ing car or the built-in software can be inserted into the liability chain.3
Liability issues relating to self-driving cars are undoubtedly the most impor-
tant questions, but other legal aspects shall also be examined. The use of intellec
-
tual properties (e.g. software) in the course of the operation of self-driving cars
raises questions in the field of copyright law. Furthermore, the installation of
so-called ‘black box’ into self-driving cars, specifically the data recording possi-
bilities of this equipment and the prescription of the data retention duty in order
to allow for the reconstruction of an incidental accident caused by the self-driving
car, raises further questions. These issues fall within the field of data protection law.
The above-mentioned legal issues are regulated by the various national leg-
islators in different ways. Nevertheless, it is a common feature of these legal
regulations that they are always behind the technical reality since the process and
rhythm of creating an appropriate legal background is incapable of competing
Lichte des Schweizer Zulassungs- und Haftungsrechts, Nomos, Baden-Baden 2016; Maurer,
Markus, Gerdes, J. Christian, Lenz, Barbara, Winner, Hermann (Eds.): Autonomes Fahren
Technische, rechtliche und gesellschaftliche Aspekte, Springer, 2015; Oppermann, Bernd, Stender-
Vorwach, Jutta (Eds.): Autonomes Fahren. Rechtsfolgen, Rechtsprobleme, technische Grundlagen,
C.H. Becks, München 2017; Juhász, Ágnes, Pusztahelyi Réka: “Legal Questions on the Appearance
of Self-Driving Cars in the Road Traffic with Special Regard on the Civil Law Liability”, European
Integration Studies, 1/2016, 10-28.
2 Similar dilemmas arise for many innovations that have came into being as result of the
so-called Industry 4.0. See: Слобода Д. Мидоровић, „Грађанскоправни режим података који
настају употребом паметних уређаја“, Зборник радова Правног факултета у Новом Саду
2/2018, 663, 664.
3
For reasons justifying producer’s liability see: Miloš B. Sekulić, Development Risks
– Definition under European Union Law and Justification for Implementation in Serbian Law“,
Collected Papers of the Faculty of Law in Novi Sad 2/2018, 800-804.
Зборник радова Правног факултета у Новом Саду, 3/2018
1373
with the explosive technological progress that has taken place in the automotive
industry in the last few years.
It is a fact that there are regulatory concepts in the world, but these are mostly
fragmented, and in the legal practise of European states there is a lack of legal
provisions specifically concerning the legal issues of self-driving cars. From a
legislative point of view, similar to the US states at the global level, Germany can
be regarded as a pioneer at the European level because it was the first state on the
continent to adjust the legal environment to technological developments.
On the next few pages, the existing and still evolving regulations on self-driving
vehicles are reviewed. Beyond the international rules on road traffic, the related
provisions of certain US states and the main features of the EU initiatives will also
be presented. After a broad introduction of these regulations, the German solution
is to be examined, since the German legislature created not only a framework for the
participation of self-driving cars on the road but also attempted to resolve liability
issues in connection with possible damage caused by such vehicles with the amendment
of the existing German Federal Road Traffic Act.
1. THE INTERNATIONAL REGULATION BACKGROUND OF
ROAD TRAFFIC AND THE LEGAL FRAMEWORK RELATING
TO SELF-DRIVING CARS
The demand for international unification of the rules of road traffic had
arisen relatively early. One of the first answers to this demand was the Paris
Convention in 1926
4
, then the Geneva Convention in 1949, which supplement-
ed and redefined the principles enshrined in the earlier convention in line with
developments in the car industry, which revealed a growing concern for road
traffic safety. On the other hand, from certain aspects, the Geneva Convention
can be deemed a successor of the Paris Convention since it replaced the 1926
Convention in relations between the Contracting and Signatory States.
On 8th November 1968, the Convention on Road Traffic was signed in Vien-
na (hereinafter referred to as Vienna Convention), which replaced the 1926 and
1949 Conventions in the Contracting States’ relations. The Vienna Convention
went further than the previous conventions and contains comprehensive interna-
tional rules on road traffic. Moreover, it requires the Contracting and Signatory
States to bring the substance of their domestic legislation in line with the driving
rules laid down in it.
Nevertheless, the Vienna Convention has significance not only on the inter-
national level. Considering the harmonisation of road traffic regulation within the
4 The Paris Convention was ratified by Hungary by Act XXXII of 1929.
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Ágnes B. Juhász, Ph.D., The Regulatory Framework and Models of Self-driving Cars (стр. 1371–1389)
European Union and the creation of future regulation on self-driving cars, it is an
important document as well, since the mentioned legal framework can only be
worked out in accordance with the principles established in the Vienna Convention.
The demand for creating legal provisions on self-driving cars has arisen increas-
ingly on the part of the Member States of the EU. However, creating such regulation
was not possible until 2016 since Article 8 of the Vienna Convention prescribed
that every moving vehicle or combination of vehicles have a driver. As a general
condition, it also prescribed that every driver shall possess the necessary physical
and mental ability and be in a physically and mentally fit condition to drive.
Moreover, the Vienna Convention prescribed that the drivers of power-driven
vehicles possess the knowledge and skill necessary for driving the vehicle.
At the time of its adoption, the Vienna Convention was regarded as a modern
document that contained more detailed provisions compared to the rules of the
earlier conventions. However, the creators of the convention, because of the state of
science and technology of that time, could not reckon with the fact that after a few
decades, science and technology would undergo such a significant change that would
make it possible for motor vehicles to operate safely on the roads without any human
assistance. The jump in technological evolution in parallel with the appearance of
new tendencies in the field of motor vehicle improvements make it clear that the
revision of the Vienna Convention is indispensable since road traffic regulation, in
the lack of an appropriate amendment, could not adapt itself to the regulation de-
mands caused by technological evolution. With awareness of these factors, the Vi-
enna Convention was amended in March 2016 on the initiative of several European
countries, including Germany. As a result of this amendment, the previously men-
tioned Article 8 of the Vienna Convention was also completed with a further para-
graph (5bis). At the same time, Article 39 of the convention was also amended.
It can be noted that the main characteristic of these amendments was that
they basically did not affect the provisions that prescribe the necessary presence
of the driver. In other words, the provision is still in force, according to which
every motor vehicle shall have a driver who is able to control the vehicle. Further-
more, it is worthy to note that the amendment also did not affect the definition of
the driver. In accordance with this provision, only natural persons can be deemed
the “driver” in the application of the Vienna Convention.5 Apart from these
features, the amendments facilitated the application of various driving assistance
systems having effect on the driving of the motor vehicle, provided that such a
system complies with the related prescriptions of the United Nations Economic
Commission for Europe (hereinafter referred to as UNECE).
The application of systems that are able to control the motor vehicle by the
substitution of the human driver has also been recognised. However, in the case
5 Vienna Convention, Art 1, point (v).
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of the application of such systems, the Vienna Convention provides that the system
(i.e. its operation) should be revised by the driver of the car. It means that the
driver should have the possibility to change the automated mode to manual mode
(e.g. in case of need or in case of avoiding danger) or even to switch off the system
operating in automated mode.
Due to the above-mentioned smaller amendments to the Vienna Convention,
the self-driving vehicles’ presence on the roads is not met with legal difficulties
if the conditions set by the Vienna Convention are fulfilled. Nevertheless, with
regard to the current technological development tendencies of the motor vehicle
industry, the further modification of the Vienna Convention cannot be avoided in
the long run. Thus, after reaching the full automatisation of motor vehicles, the
driver of the car will not be reasonably expected to exercise permanent control
over the car since the application of automated systems is aimed at releasing the
driver or preventing traffic accidents caused by negligence.
2. THE REGULATION OF SELF-DRIVING CARS
IN THE UNITED STATES
On a world scale, the United States leads the way in regulating self-driving
cars. This prominent role has both technological and legal reasons. On the one
hand, thanks to technological developments, the first self-driving vehicles (e.g.
Google’s car)
6
appeared in the USA. On the other hand, the USA ratified only
the Geneva Convention of 1949 and did not sign the Vienna Convention. Since
the provisions of the former convention are more lenient, the national legislator’s
scope for action in creating rules for road traffic was less limited compared to the
possibilities of those states who signed and ratified the Vienna Convention.7
At the very start, provisions on self-driving cars were worked out by state leg-
islatures, mostly in the form of bilateral agreements between the states. At present,
a kind of federal regulation exists, which originates from the National Highway
Traffic Safety Administration of the USA (hereinafter referred to as NHTSA). How-
ever, this regulation contains only minimum rules and mostly determines the standards
of motor vehicle safety (Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, hereinafter referred
to as FMVSS). Thus, the working out and adoption of detailed legal provisions on
self-driving cars takes place at state level and will continue to take place on that
level, i.e. the legal framework of self-driving cars still has two levels in the USA.
6
Vö.: Beiker, Sven: History and Status of Automated Driving in the United States, In: Meyer,
Gereon, Beiker, Sven (Eds): Road Vehicle Automation. Springer, Cham 2014, 61-70.
7
The relationship between the international conventions and the federal and state rules
are examined in detail by Bryant Walker Smith. See Smith, Bryant Walker: “Automated Vehicles
Are Probably Legal in the United States”, Texas A&M Law Review, 1/2014, 411-521.
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Ágnes B. Juhász, Ph.D., The Regulatory Framework and Models of Self-driving Cars (стр. 1371–1389)
In 2011, Nevada was the first among the 50 states of the USA and in the world
to adopt legal provisions on self-driving vehicles.8 Over the following two years,
similar regulations were created in Florida9, California10 and Michigan11 12. After-
wards, in the last few years, more states have recognised the need for regulating
self-driving vehicles. The regulations of Nevada, Florida, California and Michigan
were considered models by the other states during the working out of their own
legal provisions on the presence of self-driving cars in road traffic. Currently 33
states of the USA have some kind of legal regulation related to self-driving vehi-
cles even though the level of these regulations is different.
13
Nevertheless, the
number of regulations facilitating the appearance of self-driving cars on public
roads and keeping the legal basis is expected to increase in the next few years.
The legal questions covered by the state regulations in force are mostly sim-
ilar due to the fact that all of the state legislators worked out their legal provisions
on the basis of the regulations of Nevada. However, the method of regulation
depends on the time of the adoption of the regulation. At the beginning of the 2010s,
provisions relating to self-driving vehicles were put in a single legal document.
(See for example in the states of Kentucky14, Maine15 and Nebraska16). Contrary
to this, in the last two years the ‘old’ regulations containing minimum rules were
completed by new provisions, which were put in separate legal documents.
It can be considered as a common feature that all of the various legal regu-
lations contain the definition of a self-driving vehicle, even though the denomi-
nation is different. In view of the practice, the use of the expression “autonomous
vehicle” is the most general, but the names of automated vehicle”, “automated
driving system-equipped vehicle” and “automated motor vehicle” are also known
and used. Though these expressions are more or less overlapping, their exact in-
8 Assembly Bill (AB) 511 (2011), Senate Bill (SB) 313 (2011).
9 House Bill (HB) 1207 (2012).
10 Senate Bill (SB) 1298 (2012).
11 Senate Bill (SB) 169 (2013), Senate Bill (SB) 663 (2013).
12 About the above-mentioned regulation, see in detail: Smith pp. 501-508.
13
During the time after 2013, beyond Nevada, Florida, California and Michigan, high-level
regulation (e.g. acts) of self-driving vehicles was adopted in 18 other states (Alabama, Arkansas,
Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, New York, North Carolina, North
Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Vermont) and in the
capital, Washington, D.C. Legal sources issued by the governor contain the rules for self-driving
vehicles in 10 other states (Arizona, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota,
Ohio, Washington and Wisconsin). About the state laws in force, see http://www.ncsl.org/research/
transportation/autonomous-vehicles-self-driving-vehicles-enacted-legislation.aspx (Date of
download: 26th September 2018).
14 Senate Bill 116 (2018).
15 House Paper (HP) 1204 (2018), Legislative Document (LD) 1724 (2018).
16 Legislative Bill (LB) 989 (2018).
Зборник радова Правног факултета у Новом Саду, 3/2018
1377
terpretation is supported by further essential and various notions (e.g. autonomous
technology”, “operator”, “automated mode, “automated driving system”, etc.).
State regulations typically determine the conditions of the testing of self-driv-
ing vehicles on public roads by their producer and prescribe the requirements of
the real (i.e. ‘live’, ‘non-testing’) appearance of such vehicles in public road traffic.
17
The testing of these motor vehicles is possible only with the possession of permis-
sion and a temporary distinctive license plate. Moreover, a self-driving car can be
tested only in a certain geographical area determined in the above-mentioned
permission.
In relation to the testing, regulations also prescribe that the producer (tester)
of the self-driving vehicle must have insurance for a certain amount (e.g. the
amount insured should be at least $5 million in Nevada and California).
Furthermore, state regulations contain provisions on the driving licenses,
since it was questionable, if the operation of a self-driving vehicle requires a spe-
cial driving licence or whether having a traditional license is enough. Opinions
are diverging. Some people have said that the existence of various new functions
which are built into the motor vehicles requires new competences for the driver
in a given case, therefore the introduction of a new kind of driving license is
necessary. The question is regulated quite differently by the states. In California,
the operation of self-driving vehicles requires a special type of driving license,
which can be obtained in a special driving course regulated by the state. In Flor-
ida, there is no further requirement for the driving of such vehicles18, while the
normal driving license shall be endorsed by the competent authority in Nevada.
19
The rules on driving license are fairly different in North Carolina, where the
operation of self-driving vehicles does not require any kind of driving license at
all.
20
Nevertheless, the regulation in force prescribes that the presence of an adult
is needed when a person under the age of 12 is seated in the motor vehicle.
According to the FMVSS, state regulations contain further provisions pre-
scribing the requirement for the producer to provide self-driving vehicles with
such equipment (a ‘black box’) that is capable of storing sensor data from at least
17 Soriano, Bernard C., Dougherty, Stephanie L., Soublet, Brian G., Triepke, Kristin J.:
Autonomous Vehicles: A Perspective from the California Department of Motor Vehicles, In: Meyer,
Gereon, Beiker, Sven (Eds): Road Vehicle Automation. Springer, Cham 2014, 15-24 and 21-22;
Nowakowski, Christopher, Shladover, Stephen E., Chan, Ching-Yao, Tan, Han-Shue: “Development
of California Regulations to Govern the Testing and Operation of Automated Driving Systems,
Transportation Research Record, Vol. 2489 (2015): Intelligent Transportation Systems and
Connected and Automated Vehicles, 137-144.
18 L. House Bill (HB) 7027 (2016).
19
See Peck, Spencer, Fatehi, Leili, Douma, Frank, Lari, Adeel: “The SDVs Are Coming!
An Examination of Minnesota Laws in Preparation for Self- Driving Vehicles”, Minnesota Journal
of Law, Science & Technology, 2/2015, 843.
20 House Bill (HB) 469 (2017).
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Ágnes B. Juhász, Ph.D., The Regulatory Framework and Models of Self-driving Cars (стр. 1371–1389)
30 seconds before a collision in a read-only format. Beyond this, the regulations
prescribe a duty for the producer of a self-driving car to equip the vehicle with
other systems that are able to alert the driver and indicate the malfunction of the
automatic mode and enable the driver either to intervene in the operation of the
vehicle or to take over control of the motor vehicle. In accordance with the FMVSS,
self-driving vehicles shall also be equipped with such a system that enables the
vehicle to come to a complete stop if the driver is unable to take control.21
After a rough review of US regulation tendencies on self-driving vehicles,
several conclusions can be drawn.
1. Although even more states are adopting their own legal provisions, the
demand for the regulation of self-driving vehicles arises primarily in the most
developed regions of the USA. The experiences of the last few years show that
resolving the questions of self-driving vehicles is an important aim for state leg-
islators. Nevertheless, the “rhythm” and the directions of the state legislatures are
diverging, and certain states are pretty much ahead of others.
2. The necessity of creating regulation on self-driving cars is beyond debate
in several states of the USA. In California, for example, self-driving cars are al-
ready allowed not only to test on public roads but to be used in open road traffic
if the vehicle complies with the FMVSS. Similarly, since 2016, self-driving vehi-
cles can also be used on the roads of Florida in non-testing mode, provided that
these vehicles meet the requirements of the FMVSS. A further and controversial
feature of the Floridian regulation is that it does not require the presence of the
driver in the self-driving car.
22
Nevertheless, this provision is not unique, since
the presence of a driver is also not required for the operation of a self-driving car
under a related bill in Michigan.
23
Furthermore, according to the regulations
Nebraska adopted in 2018, the driver’s presence in the vehicle is not compulsory
for open road use if the prerequisites defined by the law are fulfilled.24
3. After reviewing the relating regulations of the various US states, it should
be stated that these provisions can serve as models for the world’s other developed
countries that are concerned by the appearance of self-driving cars and the legal
and other problems they pose.25 However, as it can be seen, legal provisions on
self-driving cars are very divergent in the USA. Therefore, a question arises: Is
there ever any chance to create such a globally harmonised legal framework that
21 Soriano, Dougherty, Soublet, Triepke, 22.
22 House Bill (HB) 7027 (2016).
23 Senate Bill (SB) 996 (2016).
24 Legislative Bill (LB) 989 (2018).
25 In connection with the state regulations, the adopted legal provisions are often criticised
for not distinguishing among the self-driving cars according to the level of automatisation, i.e.
these regulations are not as differentiated as required. See Pearl, Tracy Hresko: “Fast & Furious:
The Misregulation of Driverless Cars”, Annual Survey of American Law, 1/2017, 58.
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1379
takes the form of an international convention? As Pearl noted in her previously
referenced work, state legislators should change their approach and wait, see and
then legislate instead of adopting anticipated legislation.26
3. EUROPEAN TENDENCIES IN THE REGULATION
OF SELF-DRIVING CARS
In the last few years, the USA has had to face several rivals in the develop-
ment of self-driving vehicle technology. In the Far East, namely in China and
Japan, a large amount of money is spent on motor vehicle improvement; the cre-
ation of the appropriate legal environment is coming forth in the near future.
Though technological developments also take place in Europe, the future regula-
tion of self-driving vehicles shall be examined from several viewpoints and levels
in this region. This is caused by the fact that distances in Europe are relatively
small, i.e. travelling is necessarily coupled with the crossing of borders. Therefore,
the appearance of self-driving motor vehicles on European roads brings up the
demand for relatively unified, or at least harmonised, legal regulation. It would
be the best solution if technical and legal questions related to self-driving vehicles
would be regulated not at the national (or Member State) level but at the suprana-
tional level. However, a future regulation to be adopted by the European Union
would cover the European continent only in part. Thus, the creation of such a
legal framework would not be a satisfactory solution since the crossing of the
external borders of the EU with a self-driving car raises further questions that can
be arranged only by means of bilateral agreements.
Since transport policy forms part of the common policies of the European
Union, the designation of the main directions of regulation of the various sectors
(e.g. road transport, railway transport, aerial transport and navigation) falls within
the competence of the EU. Therefore, the minimum rules on self-driving cars will
presumably be worked out at the EU level. However, road transport is regulated
at the national level by all Member States, in line with the previously mentioned
international road traffic conventions.27
In the middle of the 2000s, a European Technology Platform (ETP) was set
up with the recognition and support of the European Commission. As main tasks,
the European Road Transport Research Advisory Council (hereinafter referred
to as ERTRAC) cooperates with the actors of the road transport sector to create
a common approach and to shape the image of the future of European road trans-
port. At the same time, it drafts the possible strategies and the main directions of
26 T. Pearl, 71.
27 In Hungary, Act No. I. of 1988 contains provisions on road transport.
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Ágnes B. Juhász, Ph.D., The Regulatory Framework and Models of Self-driving Cars (стр. 1371–1389)
research and development in the field of road transport.
28
National road transport
strategies are worked out along these lines.
However, during the last few years, the Commission has expressed that it
intends to create an intelligent transport system that is in step with technological
developments and utilises recent achievements in the field of the motor vehicles
as an industry having strategic importance. Moreover, the system to be worked
out within the European Union should comply with the various aims (e.g. sustain-
ability) of the EU.
29
Towards the realisation of this goal, the Commission launched
several projects (e.g. HAVEit, Interactive, AdaptIVe, i-GAME, AutoNOMOS,
etc.), which concern the development and testing of self-driving vehicles.30
In October 2015, the Commission set up the High Level Group on the Com-
petitiveness and Sustainable Growth of the Automotive Industry in the European
Union (hereinafter referred to as GEAR 2030), consisting of 25 members who are
experts from different sectors. Moreover, certain members of the Commission,
certain Member States’ ministers of economy, industry or transport, representa-
tives of consumers, trade unions, environmental protection and road safety organ-
isations (e.g. the European Association of Automotive Suppliers, the European
Federation for Transport and Environment, the European Consumer Organisation,
etc.) and observers of other organisations (e.g. the European Investment Bank, the
Committee of the Regions, the European Economic and Social Committee) also
participated in the work of GEAR 2030.
In 2016, GEAR 2030 prepared a discussion paper for the Commission
(Roadmap on Highly Automated Vehicles)31, in which the working group defined
the need for the revision and amendment of the legal and political framework of
highly automated motor vehicles. According to GEAR 2030’s paper, the above-men-
tioned need is especially strong in the field of traffic rules, while provisions on
the acquisition of driving license, road conformance, road signs, liability and
insurance, as well as cyber security and data protection, shall also be revised or
amended. As GEAR 2030 formulated, the final goal is the creation of a common
28 About the tasks and activities of the ERTRAC, see the organisation’s homepage (www.
er trac.org.).
29
See White Paper – Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area – Towards a competitive
and resource efficient transport system, COM (2011) 144 final, Brussels, 28.03.2011; CARS 2020:
Action Plan for a competitive and sustainable automotive industry in Europe, COM (2012) 636
final, Brussels, 08.11.2012. About the white paper see Iván Gábor: Közlekedési politika, In: Kende
Tamás (Ed.): Bevezetés az Európai Unió politikáiba, Wolters Kluwer, Budapest 2015, 657-660.
30
See Meyer, Gereon, Deix, Stefan: Research and Innovation for Automated Driving in
Germany and Europe, In: Meyer, Gereon, Beiker, Sven (eds): Road Vehicle Automation. Springer,
Cham 2014, 71-81 and 73-74.
31 https://circabc.europa.eu/sd/a/a68ddba0-996e-4795-b207-8da58b4ca83e/Discussion%20
Paper%C2%A0-%20Roadmap%20on%20Highly%20Automated%20Vehicles%2008-01-2016.pdf,
(Date of download: 6th April 2018).
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1381
legal foundation that is based on the international standards laid down by the
UNECE and harmonised to the highest degree. In autumn 2017, GEAR 2030
published its final report
32
, in which it made recommendations for the Commission
and the Member States relating to the future direction of the regulation of auto-
mated and connected motor vehicles.
In May 2018, considering the recommendations of the report by GEAR 2030,
the Commission published a communication33, in which it envisaged the com-
prehensive revision of vehicle safety regulations
34
and the adoption of further
legislative acts regarding the questions of self-driving cars. Furthermore, EU
provisions on driving licenses35 should also be amended in the near future due
to the appearance of self-driving vehicles in open road traffic. Nevertheless, the
direction of these amendments is uncertain at present since it has not been decided
yet if the operation of these vehicles, provided that possession of special knowledge
is needed, requires a new kind of driving license or not.
It is also important to note that both national legislators and the legislative
bodies of the EU should take into consideration the amended and newly inserted
provisions of the Vienna Convention in the course of the adoption of their regu-
lations on self-driving vehicles.
It is obvious that the revision of the EU regulations on road traffic is neces-
sary because of the appearance and the future use of self-driving cars. Beyond
this need, the potential directions of the revision became even more concrete in
the last few years, therefore it should be taken into account that various legal
regulations will be adopted in the EU, even if there has not been any explicit legal
initiative up to now. EU legislation has its own time. While the creation of a single
EU regulation on self-driving cars will be a long, gradual and very slow process,
several political declarations have been published at the national level in which
the introduction of self-driving vehicles and the adoption of the regulatory frame-
work have been scheduled. The activity of national legislators is also due to the
pressure from leading motor vehicle producers since the existence of a clear, safe
and predictable legal environment is particularly important to them. These manufac-
turers expect for good reason to see how and under which conditions the testing
32 https://ec.europa.eu/growth/content/high-level-group-gear-2030-report-on-automotive-
competitiveness-and-sustainability_en, (Date of download: 18th June 2018).
33 Communication from the Commission – On the road to automated mobility: An EU
strategy for mobility of the future, COM (2018) 283 final, Brussels, 17.05.2018.
34 Regulation (EC) No 661/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 July
2009 concerning type-approval requirements for the general safety of motor vehicles, their trailers and
systems, components and separate technical units intended therefore, OJ L 200, 31.7.2009, pp. 1-24.
35 Directive 2006/126/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 December
2006 on driving licences,
OJ L 403, 30.12.2006, pp. 18–60.
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Ágnes B. Juhász, Ph.D., The Regulatory Framework and Models of Self-driving Cars (стр. 1371–1389)
and the open-road use of automated vehicles or vehicles equipped with driving
assistance technologies will occur.
Nowadays, there are more states that are interested in the introduction of
self-driving vehicles, and that manifests this intention at the political level. How-
ever, there are also some states where the adoption of the related provisions or the
modification of previously existing regulations is in process or has already oc-
curred. For the present, the application of the latter solution, i.e. the amendment
of the existing rules, is more common since the testing of self-driving vehicles
(limited to a certain section of road and only in possession of a special permit)
typically requires the appropriate amendment to road traffic rules.
In the Netherlands, for instance, road traffic rules were amended; since
summer 2015, the wide open-road testing of self-driving vehicles (both cars and
buses) is possible in possession of a permit from the competent authority.
In Hungary, some steps have also been taken recently towards the future
introduction of self-driving cars. In 2017, amendments to two ministerial decrees
(Ministerial Decree KöHÉM No. 5/1990 of 12 April 1990 on the technical inspec-
tion of road vehicles and Ministerial Decree KöHÉM No. 6/1990 of 12 April 1990
on the technical conditions for placing and keeping road vehicles in circulation)
were adopted
36
in relation to the testing of vehicles for experimental purposes.
Thereafter the open-road testing of these vehicles became legal in Hungary.
It should be noted that Hungarian regulations use neither the expression
‘self-driving vehicle’ nor the term ‘automated vehicle’. As an alternative, Hungar-
ian legislators introduced a broader expression. An autonomous vehicle for ex-
perimental purposes’ is such a vehicle for experimental purposes that (a) is aimed
at the development of partially or fully automated operation and (b) has a qualified
test driver who, depending on the level of automatisation of the vehicle, can exercise
manual control when it is needed in cases that jeopardise traffic safety.37
Annex 18 of Decree No. 6/1990 contains the classing of the above-mentioned
vehicles in line with internationally defined and recognised taxonomy.38 Annex
17 of the same decree contains the detailed operational and technical conditions
relating to autonomous vehicles with the aim of development.39
36 Ministerial Decree NFM 11/2017 of 12 April 2017 amending the Ministerial Decree
KöHÉM No. 5/1990 of 12 April 1990 on the technical inspection of road vehicles and Ministerial
Decree KöHÉM No. 6/1990 of 12 April 1990 on the technical conditions for placing and keeping
road vehicles in circulation in relation to the testing of vehicles for experimental purposes.
37 See Decree No. 5/1990, Article §2 (3b), point b).
38 In 2014, the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) International published a standard
by which the definition of autonomous motor vehicles and the five levels of automatisation were
determined. See Taxonomy and Definitions for Terms Related to Driving Automation Systems for
On-Road Motor Vehicles, https://www.sae.org/standards/content/j3016_201806/).
39
Annex 17 of the Decree No. 6/1990 contains provisions on the expected status of the
autonomous vehicle for experimental purposes and prescribes the requirement of prior notification
Зборник радова Правног факултета у Новом Саду, 3/2018
1383
Regarding the regulation of self-driving cars at the European level, Germa-
ny is clearly a pioneer. The German legislation has already established the legal
framework in which the participation of self-driving cars on the road is possible,
despite the fact that until now there has been no adopted legislation at the EU
level. Since the adopted legislation in Germany is unique at the European level
and can be an example for other national and EU legislators, the main provisions
will be described in more detail below.
4. THE GERMAN MODEL OF THE REGULATION
OF SELF-DRIVING CARS
In the last few years, the demand for national regulation of self-driving vehicles
has been growing even stronger in Germany in parallel with the great leap forward
in the technology of automated and self-driving motor vehicles. The leading German
motor vehicle producers (e.g. Mercedes (Daimler), BMW, Audi, Volkswagen, etc.)
presented their innovative solutions and the prototypes of self-driving cars, as well
as the testing on the open road and the use in road traffic of such vehicles that have
been built to serve future generations, required for clear and precisely defined
frames. In recent times, the attention of lawyers also turned toward the direction of
self-driving vehicles and problems generated by their appearance. They tried to draft
a solution for all of those questions that arose due to the appearance of self-driving
vehicles and to the lack of their appropriate regulation.40
In November 2015, the Federal Government of Germany (Bundesregierung)
published a strategy41 which defined the need for the modification of road traffic
regulations in order to make the use of self-driving cars on the road possible.
Afterwards, the government proposed a draft
42
to the Bundestag, according to
which the German Road Traffic Act (Straßenverkehrsgesetz, hereinafter referred
of testing in autonomous mode to the Minister of Transport. It also prescribes that the vehicle
developer shall provide a data recorder in autonomous vehicles with the aim of development that
can record the digital signals from the movement of the vehicle and can reconstruct events in the
case of a road accident. The Annex settles the requirements of the switching system between
manual control and automatic control.
40 Franke, Ulrich: “Rechtsprobleme beim automatisierten Fahren – ein Überblick”,
Deutsches Autorecht, 2/2016, 61-66; Jänich, Michael Volker – Schrader, Paul – Reck, Vivien:
“Rechtsprobleme des autonomen Fahrens, Neue Zeitschrift fuer Verkehrsrecht, 7/2015, 313-318.
41 See Strategie automatisiertes und vernetztes Fahren, https://www.bmvi.de/SharedDocs/
DE/Publikationen/DG/broschuere-strategie-automatisiertes-vernetztes-fahren.html (Date of
download: 17th June 2018), p. 17.
42 About the draft of the amendment of the StVG, see in detail Berndt, Stephan: “Der
Gesetzentwurf zur änderung des Strassenverkehrsgesetzes. Ein Überblick”, Strassenverkehrsrecht,
4/2017, 121-127.
1384
Ágnes B. Juhász, Ph.D., The Regulatory Framework and Models of Self-driving Cars (стр. 1371–1389)
to as StVG) was amended in 2017.43 With the adoption of this amendment, the
German legislature paved the way for the safe introduction of vehicles equipped
with automated functions to the open road traffic.
The new Article §1a of the StVG contains the basic provisions on automated
motor vehicles, distinguishing between motor vehicles with highly or fully auto-
mated driving functions. As a starting point, Article §1a establishes that the op-
eration of a motor vehicle with highly or fully automated driving function is
permissible provided the function is used for its intended purpose. In addition,
the referenced article of the StVG defines the conceptual framework of the
above-mentioned motor vehicles. In the application of the StVG, those motor
vehicles shall be deemed as motor vehicles with highly or fully automated driving
functions, which are equipped with technical equipment that is able to perform,
after activation, driving tasks in compliance with traffic laws. The definition set
by the act also specifies that the automated system can be manually overridden
or deactivated by the driver at any time. It is laid down as a further requirement
that the necessity of manual vehicle control can be recognised by the driver, who
is to be alerted visually, acoustically, tactilely or otherwise perceivably by the
automated system. In case of alert, the automated system shall ensure enough time
for the driver to take control over the motor vehicle.44
It is also important to note that the definition of motor vehicles with highly
or fully automated driving functions diverge from the notion used by the US state
regulations. The definition of the StVG is more complex since it requires not only
the existence of automated driving function and the possibility of taking over
control of the car but also the fulfilment of other conditions. Moreover, the StVG
determines who shall be deemed a driver. According to Article §1a (4), a driver
can be anyone who activates a highly or fully automated driving function and uses
such a function for vehicle control, even if he does not control the vehicle manu-
ally by himself during the time of the intended use of the automated function. Due
to the application of a fiction, the notion of driver also covers those persons who
actually do not exercise control over the motor vehicle. This is the reason why the
general road traffic requirements for drivers shall be applied to the driver of motor
vehicles with highly or fully automated driving functions.45
The amended text of the StVG also defines the basic rules for the relationship
existing between the driver and the highly or fully automated motor vehicle. These
provisions determine those rights and duties (responsibilities) that can be exercised
43
About the new provisions of the StVG, see Hilgendorf, Eric: Auf dem Weg zu einer
Regulierung des automatisierten Fahrens: Anmerkungen zur jüngsten Reform des StVG”,
Kriminalpolitische Zeitschrift, 4/2017, 225-228 and König, Carsten: “Die gesetzlichen
Neuregelungen zum automatisierten Fahren”, Neue Zeitschrift für Verkehrsrecht, 3/2017, 124-128.
44 StVG, Art 1a (2).
45 E. Hilgendorf, 226.
Зборник радова Правног факултета у Новом Саду, 3/2018
1385
or shall be fulfilled by the driver during the use of the motor vehicle in automated
mode. Nevertheless, these rights and duties have an additional aspect since they,
because of the normative extension of the notion of driver, complement those rights
and duties which are generally prescribed for drivers of traditional motor vehicles.
Article §1b (1) of the StVG provides for the driver to divert his attention from
the road traffic occurrences and vehicle control when the vehicle is controlled by
means of highly or fully automated driving functions. However, the driver shall
remain alert at any time to fulfil his duty prescribed by law, i.e. to take over con-
trol of the car.
According to the paragraph (2) of Article §1b, the driver is obliged to take
control of the motor vehicle without delay if he is expressly asked to by the auto-
mated system or he himself recognises or on the basis of obvious circumstances
should recognise that the prerequisites for the intended use of automated driving
functions no longer exist.46
Beyond the general rules of motor vehicles with highly or fully automated
driving functions, the StVG also contains special provisions regarding data man-
agement (§63a). These rules have been strongly criticised in the literature.47
During the use of highly or fully automated driving functions, some data is
stored by means of the satellite navigation system. Among others, motor vehicles
store information on the exact time and place (i.e. coordinates) when a change of
vehicle control between the (human) driver and the highly or fully automated
system takes place. Moreover, the system records the time when the driver is asked
to take over or take back control of the vehicle, or when a technical failure or
malfunction occurs. According to Article §63a (4), the owner of the vehicle shall
delete the data stored after six months. Nevertheless, in certain cases (e.g. in case
of a traffic accident), this data can be transmitted to the authorities. In those cases,
the owner of the vehicle is obliged to delete the data stored (and transmitted) after
three years.
Though the German legislature amended several provisions of the StVG
regarding motor vehicles with highly or fully automated driving functions, the
modification did not concern issues of liability. The liability of the driver is essen-
tially based on Article §823 of the German Civil Code (Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch,
hereinafter BGB) and §18 of the StVG. However, beyond such general delictual
46 The above-mentioned paragraph of the StVG was strongly criticised by specialists. See
Wagner, Bernd, Goeble, Thilo: “Freie Fahrt für das Auto der Zukunft? Kritische Analyse des
Gesetzentwurfs zum hoch- und vollautomatisierten Fahren”, Zeitschrift für Datenschutz, 6/2017,
265; Schirmer, Jan-Erik: “Augen auf beim automatisierten Fahren! Die StVG-Novelle ist ein
Montagsstück”, Neue Zeitschrift für Verkehrsrecht, 6/2017, 255.
47 Schmied, Alexander, Wessels, Ferdinand: “Event Data Recording für das hoch- und
vollautomatisierte Kfz. Eine kritische Betrachtung der neuen Regelungen im StVG”, Neue
Zeitschrift fuer Verkehrsrecht, 8/2017, 357-364.
1386
Ágnes B. Juhász, Ph.D., The Regulatory Framework and Models of Self-driving Cars (стр. 1371–1389)
(fault-based) liability, the rule of strict liability can also be applied as it is prescribed
by Article §7 of the StVG. The application of strict liability in the case of damage
caused by a motor vehicle is widespread in European liability systems. Nevertheless,
the use of motor vehicles with highly or fully automated driving functions raises
the question of whether the application of such a form of liability shall be rethought.
As Hilgendorf noted in his already mentioned work, the German legislature should
have redefined the existing liability structure with regard to highly or fully auto-
mated motor vehicles. Since such modification was not adopted, the keeper of a
highly or fully automated vehicle is still liable for the damage caused by his vehicle
under strict liability rules according to the related provisions of the StVG. How-
ever, while the driver can be exonerated from liability if the automated driving
function was used and the damage was caused by the malfunction of the automated
driving system, this exoneration cannot be applied to the keeper. Hilgendorf also
added that other legal acts like the German Product Liability Act48 and the related
provisions of the German Criminal Code49 have not been amended.50 Accordingly,
in the case of a defect of a product, the producer or the operator of the technological
system can be liable for the damage. Such liability is also based on fault. In his recent
work, König agrees with the opinion of Hilgendorf and emphasizes that rules about
the liability of the keeper, driver and producer should have been created.51
As it was mentioned, the amendments and the newly inserted provisions of
the StVG have been strongly criticised by both theoreticians and practitioners. At
the same time, it should be noted that the introduction of the new provisions has
an experimental nature, as it is shown by Article §1c of the StVG. According to this
Article, after 2019, the competent ministry (i.e. the Federal Ministry of Transport
and Digital Infrastructure)52 is obliged to revise the application of the amended
provisions of the StVG and evaluate the application on the grounds of economic
considerations. Afterwards, the ministry is obliged to report the results to the Bun-
destag.
Nonetheless, it should also be noted that the amended provisions of the StVG,
aimed at creating the legal framework for the use of self-driving cars in open road
traffic, are unique and exemplary in Europe. Therefore, these new German reg-
ulations can serve as a model for other European states in the course of working
out their own national regulations on self-driving cars.53
48 Gesetz über die Haftung für fehlerhafte Produkte (ProdHaftG).
49 Strafgesetzbuch (StGB), Art. 222 and Art. 229.
50 E. Hilgendorf, 227.
51 König, Cartsten: “Gesetzgeber ebnet den Weg fuer automatisiertes Fahren – weitgehend
gelungen”, Neue Zeitschrift fuer Verkehrsrecht, 6/2017, 251.
52 Bundesministerium für Verkehr unf digitale Infrastruktur, BMVI.
53 By way of example, the German provisions are examined by Konrad Lachmayer in
respect to their practicability for the creation of future Austrian regulation on self-driving cars.
Зборник радова Правног факултета у Новом Саду, 3/2018
1387
CLOSING REMARKS
The automatisation of motor vehicles is a long development process. In the
course of such a process, modern technologies like lane-keeping assistance, blind
spot detection systems, adaptive cruise control (ACC), autonomous emergency
braking system (AEB) or collision avoidance systems have been the first steps.
However, these assistance systems were superseded by new science and technology,
and such systems that are able to take over full operation (control) of the vehicle
for shorter or longer periods have been tested.
With regard to the distribution of driving tasks between the (human) driver
and the assistance system, vehicles can be ranked into levels on the basis of the
measure of their automatisation. The first level encompasses those motor vehicles
that are fully and exclusively controlled by a human driver, i.e. operating tasks
like steering, braking, accelerating or slowing down and so forth are performed by
the driver. Contrary to this, those vehicles that are at the highest level of autom-
atisation (“fully automated vehicles”) are able to drive themselves, i.e. these ve-
hicles do not require human attention (and human presence) since the autonomous
vehicle system controls all critical tasks, such as the monitoring of the environment
and identification of unique driving conditions like traffic jams, and is capable of
allowing safe participation in public road traffic. Although the development of
self-driving vehicles is quite fast, their appearance on public roads is only pre-
dicted to happen in the 2020s or 2030s at the earliest; currently the testing of
highly automated vehicle prototypes on public roads is in progress.
At present, national legislators are expected to create regulations on self-driving
cars. The law should keep abreast of technological development, even if it is obvious
that the legal environment cannot change as fast as the improvement of automated
vehicles and other modern technologies. Not only the producers of motor vehicles
but also the members of society as a whole need a safe and predictable legal back-
ground that designates the legal parameters of automatised systems and defines
the ethical and legal requirements to be fulfilled.
Resolving liability questions is indisputably a cornerstone of the regulation
to be created in the future.54 There is a basic need for designating the borders of
See Lachmayer, Konrad: “Von Testfahrten zum regulären Einsatz automatisierter Fahrzeuge”,
Zeitschrift für Verkehrsrecht, 12a/2017 (Sonderheft), 519.
54 De Bruyne, Jan, Tanghe, Jochen: “Liability for damage caused by autonomous vehicles:
a Belgian perspective”, Journal of European Tort Law, 3/2017, 324-371; Gomille, Christian:
“Herstellerhaftung für automatisierte Fahrzeuge, Juristen Zeitung, 2/2016, 76-82; Harnoncourt,
Maximilian: “Haftungsrechtliche Aspekte des autonomen Fahrens”, Zeitschrift für Verkehrsrecht,
12a/2016, 546-552; Schrader, Paul: “Haftungsfragen für Schäden beim Einsatz automatisierter
Fahrzeuge im Straßenverkehr”, Deutsches Autorecht, 5/2016, 242-246; Templ, Heinz: “Über die
Haftungsfrage von selbsttätig am Straßenverkehr teilnehmenden KFZ”, Zeitschrift für
Verkehrsrecht, 1/2016, 10-14.
1388
Ágnes B. Juhász, Ph.D., The Regulatory Framework and Models of Self-driving Cars (стр. 1371–1389)
the liability of the (vehicle) keeper and driver, the producer of the vehicle or the
built-in automated driving system and the operator of the technological system.
Furthermore, defining the relationship among these liability forms is also essential.
The clear designation and delimitation of civil (law) liability cases is undoubtedly
the most urgent task. Nevertheless, questions also emerge in other fields of liabil-
ity (e.g. criminal law and administrative law) to be answered in the near future.55
The existence of self-driving cars is not futurity but reality, therefore the
creation of the appropriate regulatory environment is necessary, both at the national
and supranational level. National legislators should start from already existing
(e.g. German, American) regulation and, learning from their noticed deficiencies,
should aim to create such a legal framework that satisfies the needs that arise and
arranges more broadly the questions relating to the use of self-driving vehicles in
open road traffic.
55
Bartolini, Cesare, Tettamanti, Tamás, Varga, István: “Critical features of autonomous
road transport from the perspective of technological regulation and law”, Transportation Research
Procedia, 17/2017, 796-797.
Зборник радова Правног факултета у Новом Саду, 3/2018
1389
Др Aгнеш Б. Јухас, доцент
Универзитет у Мишколцу
Правни факултет
civagnes@uni-miskolc.hu
Регулаторни оквир и модели аутомобила који сами возе
Сажетак: До недавно је помисао да ће доћи време када неће бити по-
требе за возачима и када ће аутомобили сами возити деловала одвише фу-
ту ристички. Данас су тзв. аутомобила који сами возе (тј. аутономни или
аутоматизовани аутомобили) и њихово учешће у копненом транспорту
по стали реалност која отвара безброј правних и етичких питања. У на ве-
деном контексту, у раду су сагледани регулативни оквири ових возила са
не колико тачака гледишта. Након уводног дела у коме су изложена ме ђу-
народна правила копненог саобраћаја, пажња је посвећена важећим одред-
ба ма усвојеним у појединим америчким државама, с обзиром на то да су ове
државе прве на свету покушале да правно уреде питања у вези са аутомо-
би лима који сами возе. Након прегледа одабраних права америчких држава,
пред стављене су кључне тенденције у важећој и будућој европској регу ла-
тиви. Међу европским земљама, немачка регулатива са изменама из 2017.
године је детаљно анализирана. Осим тога, биће речи и о настојањима за
прав но уређење ове области и у другим земљама попут Мађарске.
Кључне речи: возила која сама возе, аутономни аутомобили, систем
ауто матске вожње, Бечка конвенција, GEAR 2030.
Датум пријема рада: 03.10.2018.
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... NAGY Teodóra: A jövő kihívásai: robotok és mesterséges intelligencia az alapjogi jogalanyiság tükrében. MTA Law Working Papers 2020/6., 2.13 We need to mention the theory of Stephen Petersen, who examine the issue of robotslaves from an ethical aspect, with regard to the length limits of thispaper we do not describe it. See more Stephen PETERSEN: Designing People to Serve. ...
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This article provides the most comprehensive discussion to date of whether so-called automated, autonomous, self-driving, or driverless vehicles can be lawfully sold and used on public roads in the United States. The short answer is that the computer direction of a motor vehicle’s steering, braking, and accelerating without real-time human input is probably legal. The long answer, which follows, provides a foundation for tailoring regulations and understanding liability issues related to these vehicles. The article’s largely descriptive analysis, which begins with the principle that everything is permitted unless prohibited, covers three key legal regimes: the 1949 Geneva Convention on Road Traffic, regulations enacted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and the vehicle codes of all fifty U.S. states.
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Autonomous vehicles are no longer a mere futuristic fantasy. They will be commercialised one day. According to recent predictions, fully autonomous or ‘driverless’ vehicles could already be available within five to twenty years. Although traffic will become much safer with autonomous vehicles, accidents will not suddenly disappear. Autonomous vehicles will probably share the road with ‘regular’ non-autonomous cars during a considerably long transition period. This interaction between humans and software will inevitably lead to accidents. Recent accidents show that the technology used in autonomous vehicles is not entirely flawless either. Against this background, this article examines the potential liability of users and producers under Belgian tort law for damage caused by autonomous vehicles. The article proposes a number of solutions to overcome some of the detected hurdles. Although we take a Belgian perspective, most of the article’s findings also apply to other legal systems as they face similar challenges.
Article
The United States is on the cusp of a revolution in transportation. The sale and widespread use of both semi-autonomous and fully autonomous vehicles, also known as “driverless cars,” are both imminent and likely to significantly change the way in which citizens commute, interact, and travel. While there is substantial concern amongst state lawmakers and the general public about the overall safety and desirability of these vehicles, experts predict that fully autonomous cars will dramatically improve highway safety, reduce traffic, increase productivity, and enhance the independence of individuals who are unable to obtain licenses. Lawmakers, however, motivated by irrational fears and unfounded assumptions that human drivers are far superior to automated technologies, have begun passing driverless car laws that create significant liability issues while doing very little to enhance road safety. These laws ignore the differences between semi-autonomous and fully autonomous vehicles, chill technological advancement, impose unwarranted liability on human drivers in many circumstances, and may actually incentivize human driver behavior that is less safe than letting vehicles drive autonomously. Both “operator” and override provisions – two very common types of driverless car laws – make these mistakes. These laws should be revised significantly or struck down and replaced with laws and regulations that are both carefully tailored to particular levels of autonomous technologies and informed by the growing amount of empirical research suggesting that fully autonomous vehicles are far safer than those controlled by human drivers.
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On September 25, 2012, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law California Senate Bill 1298 (Chapter 570; Statutes of 2012) authorizing the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV or Department) to develop regulations for the testing and operation of autonomous vehicles on California’s public roadways. This marked the first time that California regulations regarding automotive technologies were developed prior to federal regulations. After meeting with governmental, academic, and industry stakeholders in order to gain insights into the technology, the DMV embarked on the development of two separate regulatory actions. As the technology advances, the DMV will revise the regulations accordingly.
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Research in the field of automated driving has a long history in the United States. From the very early efforts in the 1930s and 1940s when automated highway systems were proposed and which were researched intensively from the 1950s to 1990s, the field gained new momentum and direction in the early 2000s when the military called for the DARPA Grand Challenge, which showcased what was possible in the field of infrastructure independent automated vehicles. These initiatives were the starting point for the recent push towards automated vehicles in the interest of road traffic safety and efficiency. This article reviews the history of automated driving research in the U.S. and discusses where the field is headed with players from industry and academia, as it also points out the role of the government in setting rules and driving innovation.
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German and European vehicle manufacturers and automotive suppliers have been at the forefront of developing and commercializing advanced driver assistance systems in the past. They are thus well prepared to proceed towards increasing levels of road vehicle automation, and engage in a multitude of technology development and demonstration actions around the world, now. Nonetheless, serious steps in reliability, security and affordability of the key enabling technologies still need to be taken and solutions for the liability issues and legal requirements have to be found before a broad rollout of automated driving in Europe. Starting from the motivations of automated driving this chapter reviews recent achievements in driver assistance systems and highlights promising paths of future development of automated driving, pointing out the research and innovation needs in key enabling technologies and also considering solutions for non-technical issues. Furthermore, potential synergies between the automation and the electrification of the vehicle are analyzed.