Driverless busses and other autonomous vehicles could soon be on the roads of Germany after its lower house of parliament approved new laws for self-driving cars.
Once approved by its upper chamber of parliament, it would be the world’s first legal framework for integrating autonomous vehicles in regular traffic, according to the German government.
The bill, passed by Bundestag lawmakers last week, changes traffic regulations to allow for autonomous vehicles to be put into regular use across Germany, reports DW.com.
The bill specifically concerns vehicles with fully autonomous systems that fall under the “Level 4” classification — where a computer is in complete control of the car and no human driver is needed to control or monitor it.
According to the Transportation Ministry, the bill was written to be as flexible as possible, with the new regulations not requiring a human driver to be on standby. “Individual permits, exceptions and requirements — such as the presence of a safety assurance driver who is always ready to intervene — would not be necessary,” the ministry said in a statement.
Starting in 2022, the German government says the bill would allow for driverless shuttle busses to be put into use, as well as autonomous public transportation busses that would drive on set routes.
Autonomous vehicles would also be permitted to transport goods, and “dual-mode vehicles” could be used for automated valet parking.
Self-driving cars for the general public would also be permitted in regular traffic, although experts estimate it will take years before the vehicles become established in the market, public broadcaster Deutschlandfunk reported.
Transportation Minister Andreas Scheuer praised the bill’s passing in the Bundestag, urging for it to be put into action as soon as possible.
“Germany will be the first country worldwide to take autonomous vehicles from the research laboratories to the streets,” he said in a statement. “We are now a major step closer to that goal.”