“We are committed to more driver assistant systems being legally prescribed.” With this statement in a recent interview with the German Press Agency (dpa), Clemens Klinke, a member of the Executive Board of DEKRA SE and responsible for the Automotive business unit, underlined the importance of, for example, emergency braking and lane keeping assistants for road safety. The DEKRA Executive Board member believes that driver assistant systems have major potential for reducing the number of deaths caused by road accidents.
German Minister of Transport Alexander Dobrindt is currently working on a bill for semi-autonomous driving. However, obligatory driver assistant systems are not planned to be included. But Clemens Klinke expressed his conviction that some of the systems were at the point of being seen as a preliminary stage of autonomous driving. „As soon as they are ready to go into production, braking assistants for pedestrian protection must be prescribed for all new cars. The same applies to lane keeping systems.” However, the problem is that the systems, once they are prescribed, would only come onto the road in large numbers years later because the fleet is renewed only slowly.
And it would be just as important to prescribe the systems for review in the vehicle inspection. In the process, it also should be checked whether the originally integrated systems are available and functional. Clemens Klinke believes it should not be allowed to happen that software updates are installed without further approval, as this could cause safety-relevant systems to be changed and the vehicle would no longer be at the type approval level. Moreover, in the interview with the dpa, the DEKRA Executive Board member demanded a switch-off ban: “It should not be possible to switch of certain assistant systems such as an emergency braking assistant – or if they are to be allowed to be switched off, then for a very short time at most.” Another crucial question is who would have authority over the data in the event of an accident – the holder, the manufacturer or the police?
Driver assistant systems such as lane keeping assistants and braking assistants, which support the driver using cameras and sensors, are seen as a preliminary stage of fully automatic vehicles. However, Clemens Klinke is sure that it will still be a while before that stage is reached: “Unrestricted autonomous driving, in which we really are only passengers, no matter where we want to go, is something that we will see – if at all – only in 40 or 50 years from now.” Before that, there are still many legal, technical and ethical matters to clarify.