It is hard to imagine German roads without electric cars in 2022. But while the far more environmentally friendly internal combustion alternatives have already arrived in broad society, another goal is already on the agenda in the automotive sector. In the near future, driving a car should not only be environmentally friendly, but also offer maximum comfort. This is to be made possible by autonomous driving. The German Bundesrat (upper house of parliament) has now had to agree on a corresponding ordinance. And this gives the green light for self-driving cars.
Final decision by the German government still awaited
The focus of the Bundesrat’s vote was an ordinance drawn up by the Federal Ministry of Transport. The ministry, which is headed by Federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP), refers in particular in its ordinance to vehicle groups that will be the first to be allowed to practice autonomous driving. In addition, the ordinance for the first time sets out the requirements that must be met to qualify a vehicle for autonomous driving. The technical features in particular play an important role here. German policy is thus taking an important step in the right direction. After all, many prototypes from German carmakers show that we can most likely expect to see more autonomous cars on our roads in a few years’ time. Now that the Bundesrat has voted on the autonomous driving ordinance, all that remains is for the German government to give its blessing. If it also votes in favor, the ordinance can then enter into force.
Legal cornerstones for the technical future
There is no doubt that automakers still have a long way to go to achieve truly promising results in the field of autonomous driving. So far, the technology is simply too unreliable and harbors many dangers. This makes it all the more important that a legal framework has now been created for car manufacturers, on the basis of which it will be possible to continue the more in-depth work in this area. In addition to greater road safety and traffic flow, Bavaria’s transport minister, Christian Bernreiter (CSU), also sees a completely different infrastructural advantage. After all, he says, the use of autonomous vehicles could also make up for the increasingly serious shortage of truck drivers. Another important area of application is local public transport. Volker Wissing sees Germany as a true global pioneer in the field of autonomous driving. After all, the new regulation now allows self-driving vehicles to even be encountered in normal road traffic.
Driving only with operating license
In theory, this all sounds like a giant technical leap. However, one should not be too quick to break out into overly loud cries of jubilation. After all, the regulation links use in normal road traffic to a so-called operating permit. This can be obtained from the Federal Motor Transport Authority. Regardless of whether a vehicle has such a permit, it may only be driven within a certain operating range. Here, too, an application must be made. However, this is not addressed to the federal government, but to the responsible federal state in which the vehicle is registered. Which operating area is suitable for an autonomous driving car depends on various factors. Certainly, the individual federal states will initially choose less heavily trafficked areas for this, in which, on top of that, traffic signs are easily visible to the car’s cameras. With the ordinance, Germany as a “car country” seems to take a big step in the direction of self-driving cars. We are curious when we will see the first models.