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Hamburg to become testing ground for self-driving cars

Federal Ministry of Transport pushes for development of new technologies

Hamburg and five other German cities are to become testing grounds for self-driving cars, NDR reported Monday (August 1st). According to the report, the German Ministry for Transport has confirmed Hamburg’s inclusion in the pilot phase after Alexander Dobrindt, Minister for Transport, had made an announcement in the tabloid Bild am Sonntag“. In a few years, self-driving cars are likely to be travelling on roads in Munich, Ingolstadt, Düsseldorf, Dresden and Braunschweig. During the pilot phase, tests will determine whether self-driving cars recognise traffic lights, crossroads and other obstacles in road traffic. So far, self-driving cars have been tested mainly on motorways in less complex conditions.

EUR 80 million for research purposes

Commenting at the start of a funding programme for automated driving, Dobrindt said: “Automated driving systems are gradually taking effect. Automated braking assistants and digital driving are already reality. In five years, we will have standard highly-automated systems that steer our cars digitally along the motorway.” As part of this programme, the Ministry for Transport will put EUR 80 million in funds towards a research project by 2020.

Accident with self-driving cars

However, criticism of self-driving cars is mounting. Fears are growing of situations in which automated vehicles literally guide a person’s fate, for instance, by swerving to avoid a child and ending up in oncoming traffic as a result. The debate has recently been fuelled by a report on an accident involving a self-driving Tesla car in the U.S. after the driver of a Tesla electric car, driving on autopilot, died in a collision with a truck.

Ethic commission to review objections

In the interview with Bild am Sonntag, Dobrindt said automated systems could reduce the overall number of accidents. An ethic commission headed by Udo di Fabio, former judge of the German Constitutional Court, will decide on moral issues.
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Sources and further information:
www.ndr.de
www.bmvi.de

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