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May 3, 2021

Assessments on Possible Legal Regulations For Fully Autonomous Vehicles

Innovation & Fintech
Reading Time: 3 minutes


Fully autonomous vehicles produced with artificial intelligence technology are considered as safer drivers than humans have given their 360-degree viewing angle, radar, and ultrasonic sensors, their ability to see in fog and dark, and their ability to react faster than human drivers.

It is possible for fully autonomous vehicles to join our daily life in a short time, as expected, and to change the concepts of traffic and driving completely, by creating the environment that these vehicles need. This environment includes the legal foundation as well as the smart road systems on which the vehicles will be traveling. For these vehicles, entering the traffic and becoming a part of our daily life will not be possible unless radical changes are made in favor of fully autonomous driving in areas such as roads, traffic, insurance, intellectual property, and personal data.

First of all, in this direction, the laws regulating road and infrastructure systems should be amended, and the concept of “driverless – full autonomy” should be included in these regulations. The most concrete step in this regard, perhaps, has been taken in Germany until today. In the 2017 amendment of the Germany’s Road Traffic Act, the concept of autonomous driving has been added to the law. However, it should be emphasized that even the amendment did not completely take the driver out of the management and control, it stipulated that there should be a person in the driver’s seat even if the vehicle is running with full autonomy, and that driver could take over the control when is deemed necessary. Undoubtedly, this draft law will start an efficient discussion for legislative work on autonomous driving first in Germany and then in the region.

In addition to the above-mentioned points, some measures regarding a possible attack on software used in autonomous organizations should be regulated in detail. As a matter of fact, in 2015, a lawsuit was filed against Ford, General Motors, and Toyota companies with the claim the vulnerableness of the autonomous system of the vehicle against hackers, and it was decided that these companies pay a large amount of compensation.

Within the framework of these developments on fully autonomous vehicles produced with AI Tech, safety should be increased first by the manufacturers.  In order to increase safety, vehicle manufacturers should be granted financial supports by public authorities, systemic problems should be solved, and a mandatory “crash investigation program” mechanism should be created. In this way, the safety of autonomous vehicles will be increased, as risks become more predictable, stricter safety standards will become applicable to encourage further progress. This method will encourage the advancement of technology on fully autonomous vehicles without reducing incentives for safety. In addition, when the damages caused by traffic accidents and insurance regulations and insurance premiums are taken into consideration, important changes could have emerged in the parameters of traditional vehicle insurance.

Together with the introduction of fully autonomous vehicles to the market, the recording, storage, and usage of drivers’ personal data without their consent can increase privacy concerns. Or, re-designing the city components will be inevitable in the medium term – especially the parking spaces, the redesigning for self-driving vehicles, the urban development plans, and the related norms within this scope.

Last but not least, it is of great importance to determine whether the responsibility arising from the accidents caused by fully autonomous vehicles is on the software programmers and/or the robotic vehicle manufacturers accordingly, and to establish penal sanctions related to these. In such a situation, an evaluation should be made in terms of “defects”, just like in accidents caused by real drivers, and the principle of an equal approach towards “human drivers” and “autonomous drivers” should be adopted. In other words, instead of applying the existing legal regulations to fully autonomous drivers due to the design error, it should be accepted that the penalty laws applied to real drivers in any traffic accident and sanctioned depending on the behaviors of the drivers such as “negligence” or “intent” should be accepted.

In conclusion, the regulations and investments to be made for the activities of fully autonomous vehicles should also be evaluated together with the public policy of the countries. Although the infrastructure changes and investments to be made will bring heavy costs to countries in the short term, it is predicted that fully autonomous vehicles, especially by replacing human drivers who are prone to negligence in traffic, can save on productivity and accident-related costs when the death rates and traffic accidents can be prevented every year.

Kind regards,

Kılınç Law & Consulting

Innovation & Fintech
Kılınç Law & Consulting's Innovation & Fintech department represents established companies with regards to their digital endeavors