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Peoplearerequiredforeverything

Accordingtothecurrentlegalsituation,fullydriverlesscarsarenotpermittedontheroads.LawprofessorMichaelStbertookacloserlookatthisandotherlegalpeculiarities

Small blue bus on a road
EurAAG

This12-seaterdriverlessbushasbeenservingaprogrammedroutewith12stopsinKeitumonSyltforayear.

Carswithoutdriversarenotapprovedforroaduseandthelegalpositionisclearonthis.ItisinlinewithEUlawandhasitsbasisintheRoadTrafficActintheGermanRoadTrafficLicensingRegulation(StVZO).Thismeans"Autonomousvehicleswillonlybepermittedifthereisachangeinthelaw.Yetthiscanonlybeexpectedoncethetechnologyisreallysoadvancedthatvehiclesdrivereasonablysafelyinroadtraffic,"assuredProfessorMichaelStberfromtheInstituteofBusinessandTaxLaw.WithintheNAF-Busproject(seebox),theKiel-basedlegalscholarexaminedthelegalfeasibilityofusingdriverlessbuses.Currently,astewardmustalwaysbeonboard.Thisstewardmustbeabletooverridethesoftwareandotherwisefulfilthesamerequirementsasdriversofregularvehicles.

Fromacivillawperspective,itisalwaysbeneficialtohaveasmanyopposingpartiesaspossible.

MichaelStber

Ofcourse,anotherlegallyrelevantquestionis:whoisliableforthedamageifapersonorpropertyisinjuredbyadriverlessvehicle?"Somepeoplefearaliabilityloopholehere,asthereisnodriverwhoholdspersonalliabilityintheeventofactualfault,"saidStber.However,theexpertisoftheopinionthatthereisnoliabilityloopholeevenwithoutpersonalliability.

First,thevehicleownerstillholdsliability.Plus,productliabilitypursuanttotheProductLiabilityActtakestheplaceofdriverliability."Thisisliabilityindependentoffault.Thatmeansthatwhoeverproducedthevehicleisliableifdamageiscausedbyfaultsinthevehicle."Intheory,productliabilityalreadyexists.However,itplaysonlyasmallrolewithregularvehicles,asroadaccidentsaregenerallyattributabletohumanerrorandnottoproductdefects.

Astheprimaryerrorsexpectedindriverlessvehiclesaresoftwarerelated,itwouldbedesirable,accordingtoStber,forboththesoftwaremanufacturerandthevehiclemanufacturertobearliabilityfordamage."Fromacivillawperspective,itisalwaysbeneficialtohaveasmanyopposingpartiesaspossible.Ifoneopposingpartyisinsolvent,forinstance,youcanturntotheotherone."WhethersoftwareerrorsfallunderthescopeoftheProductLiabilityAct,however,remainstobeclarified.ThelegalbasisforthisistheEUProductLiabilityDirective,whichiscurrentlyundergoingrevision."Inthecourseofthisrevision,theProductLiabilityDirectiveistobeamendedsothatitismoresuitablefordriverlessvehicles,"explainedStber.

Overall,autonomousvehiclesbarelydifferfromconventionalvehiclesinlegalterms.Stbersaid"Idontthinkthatmanynewregulationsarenecessary.ItmakessensetoamendtheProductLiabilityDirectivebutthatisalreadyhappening."Twopointsareimportantforoperatingdriverlessvehiclesonpublicroadsandspaces:astewardandaspecialpermitarerequired,asthereiscurrentlynotypeapprovalforthiskindofvehicle.

Author:KerstinNees

NAF-Busproject

TheNAF-Busprojectlooksatdemand-ledautonomousbuses.TheNAF-BusprojectbeganinJuly2017andaimstoadvancetheinnovativeconceptofon-demandlocalpublictransport,apublictransitsystemwithnofixedtimetables.ItisfundedbytheFederalMinistryofTransportandInfrastructurewitharound2.38million.TheelectricallypoweredNAFminibusesareinuseinvarioustestscenariosonprivatelandbelongingtotheSchleswig-HolsteinGreenTECcampusinEnge-SandeandonpublicroadsintheDistrictofNorthFrisiaandtheislandofSylt.Thetestsareexaminingthebenefitsandeffectsofdriverlessvehiclesinpublictransport.WorkinggroupsfromComputerScience,GeographyandLawatKielUniversityareinvolved.(ne)