By on May 20, 2014

Mercedes-Benz S500 Autonomous Limo

While autonomous vehicles are still in the early stages of testing, a few of the European members of the United Nations have laid the groundwork for the self-driven future to come sooner than later.

Reuters reports the U.N. Working Party on Traffic Safety received last month an amendment to Article 8 of the 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic backed by Germany, France, Italy, Belgium and Austria that would allow drivers of autonomous vehicles to take their hands off the wheel so long as as the vehicle’s system “can be overridden or switched off by the driver” at any time.

Should the amendment pass through the myriad of red tape within the organizing body, 72 countries — the United States, China and Japan withstanding — would have to work the new legislation into their law books.

The European-backed amendment now means automakers like Mercedes-Benz and BMW can move beyond testing their autonomous and semi-autonomous offerings toward delivery to showrooms throughout the continent, all without waiting for Google and other U.S. interests to bring the technology to market. Mercedes in particular delivered an S-Class limo in response to the search engine giant’s own efforts last August which drove the Bertha Benz route between Mannheim and Pforzheim, Germany without driver input.

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12 Comments on “European-Backed UN Amendment Brings Autonomous Vehicle Future Closer...”

  • avatar

    Where is it buried in the rules that the government has a secret kill switch embedded in the car? I’m sure the EU bureaucrats would want one.

    Imagine the possibilities:

    “Pollution levels are elevated today. Your vehicle has been deactivated. Please use alternative transportation.”
    “National emergency declared, all vehicles instructed to pull over and stop to allow for emergency vehicles.”
    “Due to delinquent taxes, your vehicle has been deactivated until payment is received.”
    “An warrant for your arrest has been issued. Your vehicle will transport you to the nearest precinct. Please remain in the vehicle.”

    • 0 avatar

      “An warrant for your arrest has been issued. Your vehicle will transport you to the nearest precinct. Please remain in the vehicle.”

      …well, since you said ‘please’…

      Another possibility:

      “Internal sensor data indicates that on 11/13/13 at 23:34 hours you violated Traffic Code 234.tc5-9 (a): Failure to come to a complete stop before turning right on red. Your manual driving privileged has been administratively blocked for 14 days. Please set an autonomous destination to begin.”

  • avatar

    Flying Cars By 1960!

    Are Ike’s New Highways Outdated?

  • avatar

    The key provision is “A driver must be present and able to take the wheel at any time.” So that means if there’s a defect in the software that causes a cop directing traffic at an accident scene to get flattened, the driver is held responsible. But, since we know that the manufacturers produce defect/recall free vehicles that will never be a problem.

  • avatar

    Autonomous cars and flying cars will NEVER happen.

    Just because a car can drive from point A to B or park itself doesn’t make it autonomous.

    “Autonomous” won’t be till I can sit in the back of the car – with no one in the driver’s seat- with my girlfriend and let the car drive from FLORIDA to NYC.

    Or- when the car can let me off on Wall Street, go find a park – park without getting a ticket- then come pick me up after my meetings- all without accident.

    We’ll need true “artificial intelligence” for that and if we did have that, there’d be no jobs left for people to work to afford one.

    The film iRobot never explained how people still functioned in society when robots were everywhere.

    • 0 avatar

      Damn it BigTruck ! Will you cut it the heck out already ! Agreeing with me that is ! This is twice in one week and its getting damn scary to be honest with you !

      But since we do [ agree that is ] Heres a few actual facts to defend our opinion ;

      1)Two friends of ours are heads of Artificial Intelligence at two major engineering Universities . Both saying the technology needed to make Autonomous Cars both viable as well as safe is at minimum … 20 years away . If that . Both severely questioning whether or not Autonomous Vehicles are even worth the time , money and man power to research . Both having the opinion Autonomous cars are Alice’s Rabbit Hole . FYI 90% of the heads of Artificial Intelligence at Universities and Colleges across the US CDN and the EU are in complete agreement

      2) Every major insurance company as well as the agencies that oversee them are in agreement that should Autonomous Cars ever become mainstream … the liability and lawsuit issues that will ensue will be epic

      3) Every litigation lawyer [ including ours ] is licking their chops in anticipation of Autonomous Vehicles becoming mainstream due to the reasons stated in #2 as well as the dream of that luxury house in Aspen along with a Rolls or two in the garage becoming more than possible should it ever happen

      4) The cost of the infrastructure needed Nationwide to make Autonomous viable is wretchedly excessive and in fact beyond the means of the US government at present . And with Obama(Claus)s term drawing to a close its not likely there will be any allies in the White House to push it thru no matter which side wins in the next election

      5) Google …. is evil personified . Period ! Anyone either supporting their Autonomous venture … using their search engine … or worse using Gmail is exposing all their private information not only to the US government .. but to every major corporation as well as consumer watch/survey group on the planet and Begging for ” Brave New World ” to become reality *

      6) There are in the US at present far too many real and desperate needs to be filled for anyone to be wasting their/our time and money on such a futile and unneeded ventures such as this

      7) And finally ; Seeing as how Google without the constant financial support of the US tax payer thru multiple Grants – Loans – Subsidies etc would cease to exist . Why are any of us even considering such a waste of our rapidly depleting financial resources on “Popular Science” fiction such as Autonomous Vehicles a good thing ? Oh yeah …. that “Brave New World” syndrome . Where the general populace begs for Big Brother to take over their lives . Preferring ephemeral entertainment over freedom and the right to actually live ones own life .

      OK … so enough already BigTruck ! Post something we can bang heads over for the love of Pete ! lol

  • avatar

    I drove a V60 with adaptive cruise control for the first time last week. It was really… weird when traffic started to crawl and the car slowed down without input.

    The autonomy of the car is only half of it – it would have to be able to switch to self-drive only in the event of a broken intersection, police incidents / traffic direction, etcetera, so the road network would have to be able to tell the vehicle “hey, this is an unusual situation”. Not impossible.

  • avatar

    It seems to me that a truly reliable autonomous vehicle, one you could actually trust to work properly, would have to be essentially a real-world KITT.

    Since I’m not versed in the latest developments in computer technology, I have no idea how far away such as computer is.

    But I’m going to guess that it won’t be here next week.

  • avatar

    To everyone who says this will never happen, here is a list of other things people said would never happen:

    “The bomb will never go off. I speak as an expert in explosives.” –Admiral William Leahy, US Atomic Bomb Project

    Louis Pasteur’s theory of germs is ridiculous fiction.”
    — Pierre Pachet, Professor of Physiology at Toulouse, 1872.

    “Drill for oil? You mean drill into the ground to try and find oil? You’re crazy,”
    — Drillers who Edwin L. Drake tried to enlist to his project to drill for oil, 1859.

    Well informed people know it is impossible to transmit the voice over wires and that were it possible to do so, the thing would be of no practical value.
    — Editorial in the Boston Post (1865)

    and best of all: HORSELESS CARRIAGES:
    The horse is here to stay, but the automobile is only a novelty, a fad.
    — Advice from a president of the Michigan Savings Bank to Henry Ford’s lawyer Horace Rackham. Rackham ignored the advice and invested $5000 in Ford stock, selling it later for $12.5 million.

    So all you ‘never, ever, nope, not, nein, impossible, not profitable, not in my lifetime’ people can just Shuuush!

  • avatar

    Leave it to UN drones and Eurocrats, to try inserting themselves into the “take credit” pile for technology so far beyond their meager brains’ ability to comprehend it’s not even funny.

  • avatar

    -Those S-Class vehicles with purple windshield always age poorly, IMO.

    -The current S-Class headlamps are too reminiscent of the “bad” early 00s Buick-looking version.

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