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Self-Carriage Act: US Members Make Way for Automated Driving Free

Thursday, September 7th, 2017 | Gadgets

With a unanimous vote, the US House of Representatives has facilitated the approval of highly automated cars in the US. Democrats and Republicans voted for the so-called Self Drive Act on Wednesday. This will allow every car manufacturer to drive up to 100,000 self-propelled cars annually in a few years without the need to meet all safety requirements. So far, the limit for the exemption was for 2,500 test cars.

In addition, the self-employment law is intended to prevent the development of a patch carpet in the US by means of federal regulations. The problem: While Washington is responsible for the vehicles, the federal states are responsible for the suitability of the drivers. This led to the question as to which area of ​​responsibility the regulations would apply to when the vehicles were driven by themselves. Now the states are not allowed to adopt laws that deviate from the national guidelines.
Data protection and IT security
However, the new law still leaves many aspects of autonomous driving with the regional authorities. These include registration, driver training, law enforcement, accident investigation as well as safety and environmental issues. The States may also issue their own regulations for the sale and maintenance of vehicles.
With its 36 pages, the self-defense law is much more comprehensive than the law passed by the Union and the SPD last March on highly-automated driving. For example, the representative house requires manufacturers to provide comprehensive proof of the IT security of the car and the handling of vehicle data.

No black box required
The manufacturers must, for example, explain how the vehicle data are collected, processed, passed on and stored. The data protection plan is also intended to indicate which intervention options remain available to the vehicle users when the manufacturer accesses the data. However, in contrast to the German variant, US law does not require the use of a black box in order to be able to prove in the event of an accident whether the vehicle or the driver had taken control at that moment. So far it is unclear whether the European UN-ECE regulations will require such detailed evidence of IT security and data protection.
The US regulation is less about a final and unlimited admission of highly automated and fully automated vehicles, as it would already be possible in Germany. On the contrary, manufacturers should be allowed to bring as many cars as possible under the new conditions into the road with the new functions. The quota will be gradually increased from 25,000 cars in the first year to 50,000 in the second year and 100,000 in the third year. Through the practical use of the vehicles in traffic, the manufacturers can collect data and experience to improve the functions and make them safer.
Standards and test procedures are still being followed
Within one year after the entry into force of the self-defense law, the Ministry of Transport is to present a "Plan for Legislation and Security Preference". Among other things, this should include considerations on how the systems' performance can be objectively tested. In addition, the US transport authority NHTSA is to identify certain elements for high performance cars in the coming years in highly-automated cars. These include man-machine interaction, sensors or actuators. IT security and data protection could also be set.
The reactions to the law were very different. According to Ars Technica, Marc Scribner of the Computer Enterprise Institute, the number of derogations was too low. Criticism, however, came from consumer protectionists and car operators. "This law threatens the security of the American public because car makers have many exceptions to safety standards for no reason whatsoever," said Joan Claybrook of the New York Times Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. This is "negligent".
Consumers are exempt from exemptions
The consumer protection organization Consumer Union had called on MEPs to reduce the number of derogations. Neither the number of vehicles released nor the duration of the exemptions should be increased without special safety-relevant justifications. According to Raj Rajkumar of Carnegie Mellon University, liability issues are not sufficiently clarified in the law. Many vendors, who are not necessarily aware of the complexity of the problem, could push the market, said The Verge.
So far, it is unclear whether the US Senate will support the requirements of the House of Representatives in this form. According to The Verge, the second chamber of the US Congress is already working on its own draft, which would give the municipalities and federal states more competences. However, due to the full deadline, it is not clear when the Senate will treat the law at all.

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