The Tesla Model S and Model X, as well as the upcoming Model 3, all come equipped with full self-driving hardware, which will require a fee to unlock upon regulatory approval.
Last week in Germany, a vote was cast to allow fully autonomous vehicles on public roads, and it passed.
The legislation reads as follows (translated from German):
“During vehicle driving, the driver may turn away from traffic and vehicle control by means of highly automated or fully automated driving function… immediately if he recognizes that the conditions for the intended use of the highly or fully automated driving functions no longer exist… even if he does not control the vehicle in the context of the intended use of this function.”
The upcoming Tesla Model 3 will be, perhaps, the most inexpensive vehicle available to date with fully autonomous driving capability.
The Social Democratic Party and the Christian Democratic Party agreed to change existing law, to allow for the vehicles of the future.
This doesn't come as a huge surprise, since Germany is already considered a frontrunner for autonomous vehicle adoption. Before this new law came to be, the country already allowed self-driving vehicles on certain roads. According to the Institute for the German Economy, the country already owns 58 percent of autonomous driving patents.
The law accounts for the balance between driver intervention and responsibility, and software-controlled mobility. It is the driver's responsibility to be ready to assume control, and to be able to shut off the system at any time. Vehicles must have a "black box" to record driving information, for use in determining fault if an accident occurs.
Preliminary legislation was presented to governing bodies in February, however, there was much argument regarding specifics of wording related to "highly automated" and "fully autonomous." Also, determining driver fault was a subject that caused much concern. For now, the wording is such that the car owner must accept all responsibility for his/her vehicle.
Later, specific regulations will be drafted, which will attempt to make situational details more clear. Germany, like other countries, is still working toward a goal of 2020 or later, for the mass adoption of self-driving, but this legislative action and the rules surrounding it, will help to move forward with secondary steps.
Tesla plans to have fully autonomous cars on the road and ready to be initiated by the middle of this year. Currently, all new Tesla vehicles already possess the necessary hardware, but the software is still in the final stages of development, and Tesla must wait for regulatory approval. If Germany's plan continues to surge forward, once it goes before the Federal Council, it may be the first place that Tesla can unlock the full potential of its vehicles.