Legal aspects workshop

On November 24, 2011, about twenty project members of interactIVe met at the Federal Highway Research Institute (BASt) in Bergisch Gladbach, Germany, for a workshop on legal aspects. The participants discussed aspects of vehicle type approval, road traffic laws and product liability on the EU level relevant for interactIVe applications. The basis for discussion was the project deliverable “Legal Aspects”, which will be available on the interactIVe website in autumn 2012.

 

Vehicle Type Approval

Regarding type approval, process intervention by steering at higher velocities or for a longer period is critical, because steering interventions are only allowed for a limited duration and in order to maintain the basic desired path of the vehicle. Especially functions that are intended to prevent collisions during a lane change manoeuvre or that perform a lane change to prevent an accident raise the question what the desired course of action is. Interventions by braking are allowed as long as they are declared to the technical service during the approval process. National road traffic codes in the EU reflect vital rules of the Vienna Convention on road traffic. These rules include the basic idea of permanent controllability, assigning the driving task to the driver. Therefore, the driver’s control should be put forward as far as possible. This could be achieved by means of a function design which provides for corresponding warning strategies and which allows the driver to override the automated interventions.

 

Legal frame work

National road traffic codes in the EU reflect vital rules of the Vienna Convention on road traffic. These rules include the basic idea of permanent controllability, assigning the driving task to the driver. Therefore, the driver’s control should be put forward as far as possible. This could be achieved by means of a function design which provides for corresponding warning strategies and which allows the driver to override the automated interventions. Functions intervening in an area which is beyond human capability to react represent a special case: These interventions do not run contrary to the Vienna Convention.

 

Consider product liability

With respect to product liability law according to the Product Liability Directive 85/374/EEC — implemented into national laws by all EU member states — the producer is strictly liable for damages caused by a defect in its product. A product is defective when it “does not provide the safety which a person is entitled to expect”. It is not the Product Liability Directive itself which obligates the producer or manufacturer but the respective national product liability laws, which means that the jurisdiction concerning product liability cases has to be regarded on a national level. For instance, according to the German version the product has to comply with the state-of-the-art of science and technology (adherence to the relevant standards, e.g. RESPONSE 3 Code of Practice or ISO 26262). Therefore from a product liability perspective it is advisable to follow the basic idea of controllability and to design the functions in a way that enables the driver to override automated interventions at any time.

Co-funded and supported
by the European Commission
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