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Daimler hopes to test driverless trucks in Germany before end of 2015

Out-Law News | 28 Jul 2015 | 4:14 pm | 1 min. read

Automotive manufacturing giant Daimler is hopeful of obtaining regulatory clearance to test 'driverless' trucks on public roads in Germany before the end of this year, according to media reports.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung (FAS) newspaper reported Daimler board member Dr. Wolfgang Bernhard as saying that the company is confident of obtaining approval for testing self-driving, but manned, trucks on German motorways within "the coming weeks". Bernhard said the company will start testing as soon as approval is given, according to an automated translation of the newspaper's report.

A Daimler spokesperson confirmed that the company is already testing driverless trucks on its "own proving grounds" and that it is seeking to start testing on German motorways "in the second half of the year", according to a BBC report.

Bernhard said he thinks it will be two or three years before semi-autonomous trucks will be available to buy on the market, with it taking longer for fully self-driving vehicles to be in public use, according to the FAS report.

Daimler plans to test the vehicles across Germany, starting in the state of Baden-Württemberg, according to the report.

Munich-based expert in driverless cars technology and regulation Stephan Appt of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, said the regional government of Stuttgart has granted Daimler permission to test autonomous, manned, vehicles across Germany.

It granted a special exemption under German road traffic legislation that allows German car makers to made alterations to already-licensed vehicles for the purposes of testing, Appt said. Daimler requires separate clearance under German laws to carry out such testing on those vehicles on public roads, he said.

In the UK, a new code of practice to promote and govern driverless cars testing has been recently developed. The code addresses a number of issues relevant to the testing of driverless vehicles - from vehicle and test driver requirements, to insurance, data protection and cyber security issues.

Automotive sector expert Ben Gardner of Pinsent Masons has highlighted a number of the main provisions in the code and said the 'light touch' framework encourages the almost immediate testing of driverless vehicles in the UK.