German lawmakers agreed to allow some driverless vehicles on public roads, a first step toward enabling autonomous driving in Europe’s biggest economy.
Lawmakers in the lower house of parliament adopted legislation enabling automated driving under some conditions.
The bill, approved late Thursday, cites scenarios including small buses and logistics vehicles that can shuttle passengers and goods along pre-determined routes.
“This is the world’s first legal framework for autonomous driving in regular operation,” Ulrich Lange, a deputy leader of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s bloc in parliament, said in a statement Friday.
Germany is keen to catch up in the field of autonomous driving, a technology that could reshape the transport industry but is enormously complex and costly.
The biggest advances so far have been made by Waymo LLC and Cruise LLC in the U.S. as well as Baidu Inc. in China.
The legislation allows for Level 4 autonomy — meaning a vehicle that can drive itself under certain conditions.
For a car to qualify, Germany requires that a human being is able to shut it down in case of issues, either by sitting inside it or accessing it remotely, according to the bill.
The German government expects projects next year. The upper house of parliament still needs to approve the legislation.