MOIA’s Ebi Gömek weighs in on the German government’s guidelines on autonomous driving.
Last week, the Ethics Committee at Germany’s Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure presented guidelines containing 20 legal recommendations for automated driving. One example is that in the case of an unavoidable accident the algorithm in the car should not differentiate between human beings, as everyone is equally valuable. Another example is that each automated car must contain a black box to enable the data to be checked by the authorities in the event of an accident.
Two years after Germany’s federal government presented its autonomous vehicle strategy and the road traffic legislation was amended this May, Germany has again underlined its position as one of the leading nations in this key technology. As a MOIA engineer, I have an unequivocal opinion: This is a good thing - for several reasons.
Developing and testing new technologies boost innovation and global competitiveness. That is good for Germany as a business location. Moreover, automated driving technology is pointing the way to a more sustainable future. And that is good for each and every one of us.
In the future, there will be fewer accidents with severely injured persons. After all, about 90% of accidents are currently caused by a driver’s error. Our cities will increasingly become better places to live in because we will minimize noise and emissions through more efficient fleets and create space by reducing the number of cars. We will move more people with less traffic. Ultimately, this will mean that we can all travel more flexibly and individually in the future.
What’s next? The transition to automated driving will happen gradually – and technology, politics and society will co-shape the process. I think we will first see automated driving in professional fleets, as they have the greatest potential for reducing traffic levels and improving the quality of life in cities. The amendment to the German road traffic legislation makes it clear that even with (partly) automated driving the responsibility remains with the driver. In fleets this is uncritical because professionally trained drivers are deployed there. Protecting human life is the top priority.
I would like to see that – unlike now – the general public views automated driving as a great opportunity. Some development steps clearly lie ahead of us, but even for the test series that can settle unanswered questions and deal with concerns we need a safe legal framework. That’s why it’s good that Germany is proactively co-shaping the future of this key technology. Good for our cities. And good for us.
Lead Autonomous Driving @ MOIA. Before she joined our team, she studied and worked in Silicon Valley. Doing research on autonomous driving is her life’s vocation: “I really believe we can do a lot of good with this.”