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Germany wants black box data recorders in self-driving cars

by Jacob Kleinman | July 18, 2016July 18, 2016 5:30 pm PDT

Germany is reportedly set to introduce a new law that would force carmakers to include a black box in self-driving vehicles. The electronic recording device, which is currently used in airplanes, would make it easier to find the culprit in future crashes.

A draft of the new legislation will be sent out this summer, a government official told Reuters. The law could also require you to sit behind the steering wheel even when self-driving mode is enabled. You wouldn’t have to focus on driving or pay attention to the other cars around you, but you would need to be ready to take control of the car in an emergency.

The news follows several recent accidents blamed on Tesla’s Autopilot mode, including one fatal crash. In these situations, it’s often the driver’s word against the company’s logs. A black box could help clear up future disputes by logging when the car is driving itself and when the driver takes over.

Germany has a chance to dominate the self-driving car industry thanks to home-grown auto giants like Daimler and BMW. The country’s government is pushing those companies to rollout Autopilot features that can compete with Tesla and Google, even working with carmakers to establish new laws and regulations. This new law should help those firms keep up with the competition while also addressing some safety concerns.

Reuters

Jacob Kleinman

Jacob Kleinman has been working as a journalist online and in print since he arrived at Wesleyan University in 2007. After graduating, he took a...

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