London-Germany plans new legislation to require manufacturers of cars equipped with an autopilot function to install a black box to help determine responsibility in the event of an accident.
The hardware would record the decisions made by a car’s computer while being used in autonomous mode.
Following reports that new legislation was being prepared, the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure told the BBC the draft had not yet been finalized.
Self-driving car technology has been under close scrutiny following the fatal crash of a Tesla vehicle being operated in Autopilot mode in May.
Tesla has repeatedly stated that its Autopilot functionality is still in development and is not intended to be used as a fully autonomous driving solution.
Joshua Brown was driving his Tesla Model S on US 27 in northern Florida. A long, white articulated truck heading in the opposite direction suddenly turned left across the Tesla’s path, heading for a sideroad. Neither the car’s radar or computer-vision systems saw the truck and neither, it seems, did Brown. The Tesla ploughed into – and under – the truck, continued off the road, hit a fence and an electric power pole before coming to a stop. Mr Brown died instantly in the crash, said the British daily The Guardian.
The Guardian asked who is responsible when a self-driving car kills someone.
According to Tesla’s account of the crash, the car’s sensor system, against a bright spring sky, failed to distinguish a large white 18-wheel truck and trailer crossing the highway. In a blogpost, Tesla said the self-driving car attempted to drive full speed under the trailer “with the bottom of the trailer impacting the windshield of the Model S”.