A virtual zebra crossing for pedestrians
To pave the way for automated and autonomous systems, changes also need to be made to the regulations on the admission of motor vehicles to traffic. For example, self-driving cars may well feature innovations that enable the vehicle to ‘communicate’ with its environment: the Mercedes-Benz F 015 Luxury in Motion research car projects a virtual zebra crossing on the road to make it easier for pedestrians to cross the street. In order for this type of light functionality to feature in a series production vehicle, however, the UN regulations concerning vehicle lighting need to be revised accordingly.
Established liability model also applies to automated driving
If a self-driving car is involved in an accident, who is liable? In Germany and many other countries, the legal situation is clear because there is a liability model based on three pillars: driver, owner and manufacturer. In the case of current partial automated systems the driver remains responsible. The systems support the driver, but he must still control the vehicle and intervene in case of an emergency. If the driver causes an accident, he or she is liable for the resulting damage, along with the owner of the vehicle. Manufacturers are responsible for damages which flow from product defects.
This shared combination of liability among the driver, owner and manufacturer offers a balanced distribution of risks, protects victims and has proven itself in practice. The liability model also provides a reasonable basis for new systems and for the next stages of automated driving. Autonomous driving has the potential to further improve road safety and traffic flow, and can therefore likely reduce the total number of damage and liability cases.