Want a black box in your autonomous car? Germany does

Germany is proposing new legislation focused on the growing ranks of semi- and fully autonomous vehicles. Essentially, regulators want black boxes for these vehicles.

According to Reuters, Germany's Minister of Transport Alexander Dobrindt is pushing for legislation that will require recording devices to monitor when driverless systems are active, when a human takes control, and any instance where the car asks for human intervention. Dobrindt's proposal also details what a driver can and can't do behind the wheel – according to Reuters, Germany will always require a human in the driver's seat, but the person doesn't need to pay attention to traffic or focus on steering the car.

Manufacturers would be responsible for installing the black boxes, but the proposal doesn't explain how the law will apply to semi-autonomous vehicles that are already on the road, like the Tesla Model S. Will they need to be retroffitted, and if so will Tesla pick up the tab for existing cars or are customers responsible? Can current owners opt out? German lawmakers need to answer those questions before the proposal becomes law.

Germany's decision comes on the heels of a string of autonomous vehicle crashes, including the first known death of a driver behind the wheel while the car is in control. Joshua Brown died in his Tesla Model S in early May, setting off an investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and drawing the attention of European governments.

Reuters reports that the German Minister of Transport will send a draft of its legislation to other ministries for approval this summer.

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