South Africa’s first self-driving car trials are happening in October: report

South Africa will see its first public autonomous vehicle trials during transport month in October this year.

Speaking to Engineering news, executive director of the Mobility Centre for Africa (MCA), Victor Radebe, confirmed that the MCA had received government permission for the trials, and that one of two electric-powered candidates are currently being considered for the test.

The Z10 by EasyMile or the ARMA vehicle by Navya (both headquartered in France) are set to ferry passengers in three high-density locations as part of a trial to determine public perception, viability, and deployment capability in the country.

Radebe said that Durban’s beachfront, Sandton’s Gautrain station, the CSIR’s innovation hub at the University of Pretoria, and the V&A Waterfront have all been earmarked as possible test locations.

Autonomous vehicles

In December BusinessTech reported that there was a conspicuous lack of regulation surrounding self-driving cars in South Africa.

At the time, Patrick Bracher, director at law firm Norton Rose Fulbright, explained that the country’s laws may ultimately be similar to the UK’s recently published Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill.

According to the UK’s proposed laws, if an accident is caused by an automated vehicle when driving itself – while insured at the time – and it causes anyone to suffer damages, then the insurer is liable for that damage caused to anyone. If the vehicle is not insured the owner of the vehicle is liable for the damage.

A vehicle is considered to be ‘driving itself’ if it is operating in a mode in which it is not being controlled, and does not need to be monitored, by an individual. If it is being monitored or controlled, ordinary principles of negligence will presumably apply. The proposed legislation also has a chapter on the recharging of electric vehicles.

If the accident or damage was to any extent caused by the injured party, the law of contributory negligence will be invoked which could result in a lesser fine or sentence.

The Bill also deals with an accident resulting from unauthorised software alterations or failure to update software – cover may be excluded for that conduct. Insurers will be given a subrogated right (right to go directly after third-party) to claim against the person responsible for the accident.

Read: Motorists could face a new ‘congestion tax’ and other fees to help fix roads

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South Africa’s first self-driving car trials are happening in October: report