Germany becomes first country to legalise autonomous driving

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Words: Matthew Hansen
15 Feb 2021

One of the biggest motoring discussions of recent times has been the awkward elephant in the room; the autonomous driving future that many car-makers are striving to achieve is still illegal in most countries. Germany has changed that with today's legalisation of the next-gen tech.

“Germany will be the first country in the world to bring autonomous vehicles from its research laboratories onto the road,” said Minister for Transport and Digital Infrastructure Andreas Scheuer.

“I am very pleased that the cabinet has cleared the way for our law on autonomous driving. The German government aims to bring the laws into regular operation by 2022, meaning that within 12 months there could be driverless cars operating.”

The move will legalise cars with Level Four autonomous systems — aka, self-driving systems capable of hands-off operation. Inevitably, the legalisation has its caveats. It will only apply in certain geographical ‘zones’ and only apply to certain vehicles.

This isn’t the first time that a country has been linked to legalising self-driving. In confirming that it’s updated Legend would come with Level Three autonomy, Honda announced that the tech will be legal in certain regions across Japan.

The move could trigger similar announcements around the world. One of the most curious cases is likely to be the United States. Two American manufacturers have pioneered two of the most advanced self-driving systems on the market; Tesla with it’s Full Self Driving system, and General Motors with its Super Cruise system.


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