Self-driving vehicles are on the road, yet to be enacted by legislation

  Recently, the Ministry of Public Security issued the "Road Traffic Safety Law (Revised Draft)", which added new regulations on the operation of autonomous vehicles in the content, involving issues such as the legality of autonomous driving on the road and the safety of autonomous driving, including road testing. , Pass number plate requirements, driving data records, driver status, identification of responsibility for causing accidents, functional testing, etc.

  In recent years, the research and development and operation of autonomous vehicles in my country have developed extremely rapidly.

On October 14, 2016, China's first self-driving electric vehicle drove out of Hangzhou Yunqi Town.

On October 11, 2020, Baidu’s official WeChat account announced that Baidu’s self-driving taxi service will be fully opened in Beijing from now on, and users can experience free trial rides at dozens of self-driving taxi stations in Beijing.

At the beginning of 2021, Hubei Province will launch an autonomous driving pilot project in Wuhan Economic Development Zone. It plans to invest 200 autonomous taxis to establish an autonomous driving demonstration operation fleet and an autonomous driving operation demonstration zone.

  Since 2016, the industry has been calling for the passage of legislation to regulate the development of autonomous driving technology.

At the National Two Sessions in 2016, Li Shufu, Li Yanhong and others put forward proposals for legislation for autonomous driving, which aroused widespread attention.

The industry expects legislation for autonomous vehicles for many reasons.

The main points are as follows: First of all, passing laws to regulate and guarantee the development of the autonomous driving industry is a powerful means to strengthen competitiveness in the smart car and autonomous driving industry, which is a cutting-edge technology field.

The significance of the legislation is that it not only provides protection for intellectual property rights in related technical fields, but also provides standardized guidelines and guarantees for various commercial operations such as the testing and trial operation of autonomous vehicles.

Secondly, as a cutting-edge and cutting-edge technology field, the field of autonomous driving is undoubtedly unpredictable and risky.

How to avoid and share risks and stimulate motivation and enthusiasm for scientific and technological innovation is of particular concern to people in the industry. Of course, this is inseparable from legal protection.

Third, once an autonomous driving safety accident occurs, the rights and obligations of the responsible party need to be clarified. Of course, this is inseparable from the relevant laws to provide a basis for resolving disputes.

  At present, compared with foreign legislation, my country's autonomous vehicle legislation is relatively lagging behind.

As early as 2011, the US state of Nevada passed legislation for the first time allowing autonomous vehicles to operate.

In 2014, California also passed legislation on autonomous vehicles. Since then, many states and regions in the United States have successively revised and promulgated relevant regulations to allow autonomous vehicles to operate.

In September 2016, the United States issued the "Federal Self-Driving Vehicle Policy Guidelines", which included the safety supervision of autonomous driving into the federal legal framework for the first time.

On September 6, 2017, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the self-driving car bill.

Germany also attaches great importance to the legislation of autonomous vehicles, and has a tendency to catch up from behind.

On May 12, 2017, Germany passed the first autonomous vehicle law, which made specific provisions on the responsibility and safety of autonomous vehicles, and became the first country in the world to incorporate autonomous vehicles into road traffic regulations.

The German Bundestag promulgated the Eighth Amendment to the Road Traffic Law, which clarified the conditions for autonomous vehicles on the road, distinguished the rights and obligations of different responsible parties, and stipulated certain conditions that must be met by autonomous driving.

Germany also announced the world's first ethical guide for autonomous driving, which provides a certain ethical foundation and moral basis for the formulation and improvement of relevant laws and regulations.

In addition, the United Kingdom, France, and South Korea have successively introduced laws and regulations on autonomous vehicles.

  As far as China is concerned, the current laws on autonomous vehicles are basically in a blank state.

The Road Traffic Safety Law does not consider the legal regulation of autonomous vehicles, and some regulations are mutually exclusive with the testing and operation of autonomous vehicles.

For example, the provisions of Articles 2, 16, and 19 of the Law on vehicle testing, motor vehicle assembly, modification, driver's licenses, and the main body, etc., cannot be applied to self-driving vehicles.

According to the law, driving a motor vehicle should obtain a motor vehicle driving license in accordance with the law, and it is undoubtedly illegal for an autonomous vehicle to be on the road.

In addition, although Article 76 of the law provides for the sharing of liability after a motor vehicle traffic accident causes personal injury or death, and property damage, there is no direct provision for the sharing of liability for autonomous vehicles, which can be said to be vacant.

  How to legislate on autonomous vehicles is indeed a question worthy of in-depth exploration.

In this regard, many scholars have put forward suggestions.

Some scholars believe that the initial steps of autonomous driving vehicle legislation cannot be taken too far, because it is unrealistic to completely liberalize the legislation when the autonomous driving technology is not yet fully mature, but it will not allow the law to become an obstacle to the development of new technologies.

Some scholars believe that legislation in the field of autonomous driving mainly involves the three interrelated parts of supervision law, liability law and insurance.

Some scholars have proposed that legislation related to autonomous driving must first clarify the concept and at the same time refine the cyber security legislation, and adhere to the principle that protecting public safety is better than encouraging industrial innovation.

  The author believes that from the perspective of foreign legislative experience, in addition to the essential core content of autonomous vehicle legislation in the initial stage, it should be rough rather than detailed.

The main reasons are: First of all, based on the urgent needs of reality, it is difficult to formulate scientific, reasonable, detailed and specific legislative regulations in the short term.

Secondly, the innovation and industrial development of cutting-edge and cutting-edge autonomous driving technologies require all stakeholders to participate in and maintain their enthusiasm, and continue to explore and improve in practice, which obviously cannot be achieved overnight.

Thirdly, judging from the legislative experience of foreign countries such as Nevada and Florida, the initial legislation should be coarse and not detailed. After all, autonomous vehicles are on the road and operating unprecedentedly. Many unexpected and complicated new situations may occur. Excessively detailed laws and regulations are difficult to adapt. New conditions and the need to solve new problems restrict the research and development, operation and industrial development of autonomous vehicles.

In addition, there are two points that should be paid attention to with regard to autonomous vehicle legislation: First, the relevant legislation in the near future should reserve space for long-term planning.

Second, the legislation of autonomous vehicles needs to solve the problem of legislative mode and legislative approach. This is because the R&D technology and industrialization of autonomous driving in my country have distinct regional characteristics, and the level of R&D and development varies greatly from place to place, involving legislative models. Orientation and choice of approach to legislation.

  From a long-term perspective, autonomous vehicle legislation should move towards standardization and systematization.

As for the legislative system for autonomous vehicles, the basic content should include the autonomous vehicle testing system, autonomous vehicle operating system, autonomous vehicle operating rules system, autonomous vehicle insurance system, privacy protection and data security breach prevention legal system And the responsibility system for traffic accidents of self-driving vehicles.

Each rule or legal system has different specific content.

For example, the responsibility system for traffic accidents of autonomous vehicles is composed of general responsibility subjects, special responsibility subjects, and responsibility types.

General liability subjects mainly involve mainframe manufacturers, manufacturers, sellers, software programmers, users, Internet companies, and hackers, etc. The rights, obligations and responsibilities of different subjects need to be clarified; special subjects involve disabled persons, drunk drivers, and limited liability Competent persons, etc., and involve the rights, obligations and responsibilities of these subjects.

The types of liability for autonomous vehicles include administrative, civil, and criminal liability.

  (The author is the Dean and Professor of the School of Criminal Justice, Shanghai University of Political Science and Law)

  Peng Wenhua