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Germany prepares for influx of driverless cars with new laws

German transport minister Alexander Dobrindt has announced plans to make new laws for the legalisation of driverless cars on German autobahns in the next five years.

The announcement comes after a hectic CES 2015, where BMW, Mercedes Benz, Audi, Volkswagen and other car companies showed autonomous vehicle control, alongside new partnerships with Google's self-driving platform announced at the Detroit auto show.

Dobrindt wants the proposal to be passed before the Frankfurt car fair in September, allowing the German government ample time to review and change anything.

Autonomous cars are currently illegal in Germany according to the 1968 Vienna convention on road-traffic—signed by 72 other countries—stating a human needs to be in control of the car at all times.

The new laws will establish who is at fault if the car crashes, how insurance and licenses would work and be regulated, alongside other potential regulations for drivers.

Even though Dobrindt does not expect driverless cars to be on the road until 2020, having these laws in place allows some parts of Germany to adopt autonomous vehicles for testing.

Already the A9 autobahn has been selected for testing driverless cars, and Dobrindt will start vetting car companies who want to use this stretch of road as testing ground for their first prototypes.

Google is currently working on various safety controls, including high-definitions cameras to understand all objects around the vehicle. BMW showed off a similar auto-brake function, which will not allow the driver to crash at any times.

The issues with responsibility are still a big question without an obvious answer, especially since there are so many unique situations drivers can get into that are completely outside the regular procedures.

Germany is not the only country currently working on legalising driverless cars, the UK and U.S. are also offering trial areas for automotive companies.

David has been a technology journalist for over six years, covering a wide range of sectors. He currently researches apps, app sectors and app markets for Business of Apps, and has written for ITProPortal, RTInsights, ReadWrite, and Digital Trends.