Articles, Level 5 Autonomous Driving, Smart Mobility

Data protection in modern cars

Recently, discussions about issues regarding autonomous driving have begun. This includes both the liability of vehicles and the collection of data.
Autonomous driving promises fewer road fatalities, but it is highly unlikely that there won’t be any accidents at all anymore. Especially in view of the fact that it will take a while before a critical number of vehicles are automated. In addition, modern vehicles already generate a lot of data. This also raises questions for which there are not yet answers. First and foremost: Who gets access to the data?

The laws in Germany

Since May 2017, Germany has had a law on the operation of automated vehicles at Level 3 (partial autonomy). Such models were expected to enter the market this year, but there are no type approvals yet.
Obviously, things moved a bit too fast in following the industry’s demand to create a legal framework. The Minister of Economic Affairs, Peter Altmaier, recently stated that autonomous driving would take longer than was thought last year.

Liability issues for the insurance industry

When it comes to liability, manufacturers are looking for allies and the insurance industry fears for their premiums. This already applies to the telematics tariffs for motor vehicle insurance. Allianz-Versicherung has now initiated the debate on liability for automated vehicles with the thesis that drivers should remain liable. This is explained by what is known as strict liability. This principle already exists for dog owners. If you keep a dog, you have to make sure that it does not do any harm, otherwise you are liable for damages. However, this assessment in terms of autonomous driving is confronted with a lot of criticism. Therefore, some specialists demand product liability, which would lie with the manufacturers.

Data protection in modern cars

The cars that are already on the road today cause a lot of data. Be it the sensors, the infotainment systems or the vehicle itself. Many companies want to have access to this data, which is currently mainly in the hands of manufacturers. The German Automobile Club, ADAC, criticizes this and demands a uniform EU regulation of access to the data. The ADAC also wants to use this data, as does the insurance industry, for example. The ADAC therefore demands that drivers and owners should have the choice of whom to give their data to. Car manufacturers can use the data to offer suitable services and advertising. Research needs the data to identify traffic hazards and reduce congestion. Third party companies, such as HERE, use it to update their maps and insurance companies want to use it to clarify liability issues.There are many legitimate interests, but the focus is rarely on the drivers themselves.

About the author:

David Flora is journalist and owner of the digital magazine “Autonomes Fahren & Co”. He is reporting regularly about trends and technologies in the fields Autonomous Driving, HMI, Telematics and Robotics. Link to his site: