Smart cities: New power dynamics & intelligent transport systems

Germany’s law on Highly and Fully Automated Driving from 2017 only covered the “ownership” model, i.e. the private use of such cars. However, a new law that was just passed by the German parliament last week has a very different focus: it shifts the emphasis from private ownership of “autonomous cars” to the public operation of “people movers”. As a result, the roles of and the dynamic between the public and private actors will change. In this next step to autonomous driving, fully autonomous shuttles will be able to be used from 2022 for regular operation (in defined operating areas) on public roads, i.e. SAE Level 4. This will be without a physical driver present in the vehicle. Under the new law, control over each autonomous vehicle will be exercised by a remote “technical supervisor”, a person who, in individual cases, can disable or enable driving manoeuvres from outside the vehicle. They are not, however, required to continuously monitor the vehicle that is in autonomous operation.