The Driverless Commute: Is it still too soon for parking lot deployment? South Korea plans massive smart-road investment ahead of AVs; and European carmakers beginning to bristle at tough regs

Welcome again to the Driverless Commute, presented by Dentons, a digest clocking the most important technical, legal and regulatory developments shaping the path to global autonomy.

1. Parking lots: the next great frontier

A decade after Google launched its famous self-driving moonshot, the central question of the technology’s readiness and safety remains an unresolved scramble of ethics and profit.

No one—not car makers, technologists, regulators, or consumer safety advocates—can agree on specific standards of accepted safety for the open-road testing of autonomous vehicles.

  • The still-high motor vehicle fatality rate, which has been on steady decline in the United States since the 1960s, belies a truth about driving: it’s already a remarkably safe activity.
Read More

The Driverless Commute: Product liability law in Germany for Level-3 (high automation) AVs

Introduction and overview of applicable law

The success of the upcoming launch of Level 3 (highly automated) vehicles in Germany, targeted for year of 2020, will depend not only on technologically flawless equipment, but also compliance with product liability and safety standards. This briefing provides an overview of a manufacturer’s obligations under product liability, and corresponding tortious producer liability, law in Germany.

Within the framework of manufacturer’s liability for defective products, there are various regulations under which the manufacturer is liable for any damage incurred. The most important civil law principles here are (1) product liability under the Product Liability Act and (2) tortious producer liability under the German Civil Code.

Read More

The Driverless Commute: Road safety with driver assistance systems – EU Commission supports ISA systems for Europe

By 2022, new cars produced in the EU will only come off the production line after being equipped with a series of intelligent systems to prevent accidents. These include Intelligent Speed Adaptation (ISA) systems, which read speed limits (and/or obtain the relevant information from navigation systems), or so-called Speed Limit (Information) systems, which inform about the maximum permitted speed and, if necessary, limit the speed of the vehicle upwards (at a certain speed, no further increase is permitted).

ISA systems

In principle, one differentiates between intervening systems and (only) assisting systems. What makes ISA systems preferable to pure speed limiters (or speed limit information systems) is the technical detail of adapting the top speed to the local speed limit, by reducing engine power.

Read More

The Driverless Commute: Is 2019 a bear turn for AVs?; the fight over connected car communication divides car makers in Europe; cheaper, lighter LiDAR and machine-learning for lane-keeping.

1. A bear year

2018 was the year of the driverless car.

No, they didn’t become commercially available and they failed to traverse the realm of true autonomy, but they captured the public’s imagination and sometimes paranoia in a way unlike ever before. Finally, it wasn’t just artificial intelligence researchers talking about autonomous vehicles, but regular Joes drawn in equal parts fascination and fear to the subject.

But now the honeymoon is over.

After throwing money at startups like drunken sailors for years, the industry has signaled a coming retrenchment. Rather than more multi-billion dollar acquisitions, expect to hear about reoganizations and partnerships that would have been unthinkable only years earlier.

Read More