Daimler is one of the pioneers in the field of automated driving. Our goal is to continue developing the requisite technology and to rapidly enable these systems to be installed in series-produced vehicles. We are placing equal emphasis here on the technical, legal and ethical aspects and participating in the definition of these aspects. Daimler has already firmly positioned itself in these three areas.

  • Daimler will continue to forge ahead with the technical developments that will enable it to play a leading role in the area of automated driving.
  • Daimler is promoting a broad-based public dialog in order to find solutions regarding the legal framework for the new technology at both the national and international levels.
  • We will actively participate in the social and political dialog in order to define answers to the ethical questions that are arising in the context of the new technologies.

Steady progress is being made in the development of automated driving functions. Like many other new technologies, autonomous driving offers tremendous potential to radically change the course of mobility in the future. It is to be expected that automated and autonomous vehicles have a positive impact on traffic safety, driving comfort, drivers’ behavior during long drives, emissions reduction and individual mobility. Along with technical challenges, the development and introduction of this technology also raises numerous social, ethical and legal questions that need to be discussed and resolved by society. At Daimler, these questions are being addressed by a cross-departmental steering committee that includes engineers, developers, lawyers, data protection officers and experts from the Communications and Strategy corporate departments. This interdisciplinary body can take various points of view into account when addressing the relevant questions.

Still, we as an automaker cannot answer the legal and ethical questions raised by the new technology on our own. Instead, a broad public debate is necessary. We helped to initiate this debate early on and have been promoting it ever since through various measures.

These measures include our work in committees and associations, our promotion of the relevant research, discussions with policymakers and society, and the organization of events such as specialist conferences. Since 2015, ethical, legal and social questions in connection with autonomous driving have been extensively discussed in the “Daimler Sustainability Dialogue” with top-notch experts from the realms of politics, business and society at large. This year’s discussion in Stuttgart focused on society’s acceptance of the introduction of new technologies. One important aspect here involves achieving an adequate balance between various interests in society on both a national and an international level in order to gain widespread social acceptance. In particular, discussions need to be open and transparent if they are to take into account the interests of all the affected parties. The decisions ultimately taken will be influenced by ethical criteria such as autonomy, well-being and justice as well as cultural factors.

We are aware of the various aspects that come into play when new technologies such as autonomous and automated driving are introduced, and we therefore take into account social, ethical and legal considerations as early as the product development stage.
Daimler Sustainability Dialogue

Ethical aspects. The ethical issues associated with automated and connected driving were addressed by the Ethics Committee of the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, which was formed in September 2016. Renata Jungo Brüngger, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, Integrity and Legal Affairs, was also a member of this committee. The Ethics Committee defined essential guidelines for the programming of automated and connected vehicles, and we are already incorporating these guidelines into the development of automated driving systems.
Report of the Ethics Committee on Automated and Connected Driving (available only in German)

Legal aspects. New technologies require legal certainty. In Germany, the legal basis for automated driving systems is defined by the automated driving amendment to the Road Traffic Act (StVG), which went into effect on June 21, 2017. We welcome this amendment because it makes Germany one of the first countries to provide the legal basis for further technological developments. Beyond that, we also believe that traffic and regulatory law in Germany needs to be further developed in order to establish legal certainty in connection with the use of autonomous and automated systems.

Many other countries have now created a legal framework or initiated legislative processes. If the technology is to achieve a breakthrough, amendments will have to be made to the respective national regulatory legislation and it will have to be possible to register conditionally and highly automated driving systems. In an effort to support the development and establishment of a secure legal framework for the technical certification of automated vehicle systems, Daimler is participating worldwide in the corresponding international committees and associations that are addressing the relevant issues.

Traffic does not stop at national borders. That’s why it is important that automated driving not be inhibited by differences in national legislation and regulations. National regulations still differ considerably in this regard, however. Daimler therefore supports the international harmonization of regulations regarding automated and autonomous driving so that major legal deviations can be avoided and the technological requirements can be made as similar as possible.

Data protection also plays an important role in automated and autonomous driving. We are convinced that the responsible and secure handling of data is a precondition for society’s acceptance of automated and autonomous driving. Our data protection experts are therefore already involved in the development of the concepts for the necessary technology. They are working together with experts from Research & Development to develop solutions for data-protection-friendly concepts that provide privacy by design.

At the same time, the availability of certain data makes it possible to determine whether an automated system or a human driver was in control of a vehicle when an accident occurred, for example. German lawmakers are aware that data plays a key role in automated driving, so they have stipulated that when automated driving systems are introduced, vehicles will be required by law to be equipped with a driving mode recorder. This recorder will record when an automated system was activated and when the driver was requested to take control of the vehicle. How it should be designed in a manner that takes into account both potential legal information requirements and the driver’s privacy rights remains to be worked out in a regulation. We will support this development process and work to ensure that the technology ultimately used is data-protection-friendly. Alongside the German national regulation mandating a driving mode recorder, on the international level the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) is currently examining issues related to the development of a technical standard for such a recorder. We also support the harmonization of national and international regulations here in order to avoid technological deviations and to ensure the creation of the same requirements as far as possible.