Those clever Germans do it again
Leave it to the Germans.
That’s never a bad idea in the 21st century. The European country has a well earned reputation for not just efficiency and high level thinking, but also for finding ways to do things with the best interest of its citizens and, more broadly, the world in mind.
They’ve also always been a culture that loves a well designed car. Volkswagen (ETR: VOW3) is considered to be one of the most reliable brands in the world and Mercedes-Benz (ETR: DAI) has dominated the F1 Constructor championship for nearly a decade.
Audi, BMW (ETR: BMW), Porsche (ETR: PAH3), etc. The Germans know and appreciate a good car
So, in that light, it makes sense that they would now be on the leading edge of the driverless vehicle space.
This month a law will go into effect that will provide the framework for driverless cars to become widely used across the country, making it the first nation on earth to have a universal approach to the management of driverless vehicles.
That’s significant because it will allow companies to operate in the country with confidence that the regulatory goalposts won’t be moved on a political whim, or that a single accident won’t be used to burn the whole system down.
This is in contrast to the United States — where much of the driverless technology research has been focused. There the rules change from State to State and, in some cases, even City to City. That uncertainty makes it very difficult for a company to plan and to ultimately become profitable.
So, the German law has to be viewed as good news for the German automakers, as well as non-German companies like Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA), Toyota (LON: TYT) and Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL) subsidiary Waymo that have invested heavily in the driverless space. They now all have a market that will be predictable and that they can design their technology to work in.
It should also provide a test market to help ease safety concerns that are holding back the widespread acceptance of driverless vehicles in other markets.
The German laws will permit driverless vehicles to operate in approved routes, provided there is human oversight that can override the autopilot in case of an emergency. However, that oversight can happen from a central site.
You do not need supervisors in each car. Rather, a single operator can remotely monitor several vehicles at once from a central location on screens. If something arises they can remotely operate the vehicles.
It’s a practical, efficient and clever solution that seemingly can offer the industry an immediate way forward while it works to make the technology foolproof with the aim of eliminating all human oversight.
Like I said, leave it to the Germans.