October 19, 2016

Automated driving – new freedom, new liabilities

Digitalization does not stop short of vehicles. Road traffic increasingly becomes part of the internet of things. Automotive manufacturers and suppliers worldwide are working at full speed on the development of systems that will allow not only fully automated but autonomous driving. In addition to technical questions, this development raises a lot of legal issues besides other important implications.

Legal implications

The prediction is that within the next 10 years fully automated as well as autonomous cars will be in use all over the world. There are two overall legal challenges:

First, it is necessary to establish an appropriate legal framework for the use of automated vehicles. The existing European regulations for automated driving are mainly based on the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic. This Convention, last up-dated in 2014, needs to be broadened to include regulations on fully automated and autonomous driving. In addition, regulations on liability, licensing and road traffic, e.g. the use of mobile phones when driving, need to be adjusted.

New challenges in data privacy

Second, digitalization in driving generates a huge amount of data that needs to be harmonized with the privacy protection. Ways to do so could be the anonymization of personal data or individual declarations of consent. A particular challenge is the utilization of data in the context of criminal procedures or tort litigation e.g. due to accidents, when the authorities need to reconstruct the driver’s behavior.

Fully automated and autonomous driving is not a distant dream, but a great opportunity that will benefit all of us. It is important that the rules and regulations on automated and autonomous driving will be harmonized at the EU level.


Oleg Livschits

Arbeitsrecht, Datenschutz, Europarecht

Oleg Livschits