In mid-June, the EU Parliament adopted its position on the regulation of artificial intelligence (AI) in Europe, the so-called ‘AI Act’. The European Parliament, EU member states and the EU Commission are now negotiating the final wording of the law in trilogue negotiations. The German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) welcomes the creation of a legal framework for the legally compliant use of AI in Germany and Europe – but also sees many opportunities for improvement in the current draft.
Artificial intelligence is a key technology for German and European industry. AI has long been used in the automotive industry and the areas of application will increase in the future. It is all the more regrettable that the European AI Act threatens to complicate the development and application of AI in vehicles in Europe.
The basic idea of the AI Act is a so-called horizontal regulatory framework. The requirements should apply to several industries across all sectors. Although the car industry is exempt from the AI Act, the regulations are to be incorporated into the EU regulation for the approval of motor vehicles in the future.
The use of AI in vehicles is to be regulated by a specific legal framework. The VDA welcomes the introduction of this delegated legal act, which refers to existing norms and standards for AI and declares them to be applicable, since the use of AI in cars is very complex and difficult to compare with products from other industries.
However, this process involves a lot of bureaucracy. Technical developments have already overtaken legislation in the past and caused delays in the legislative process. For the automotive industry, there is great uncertainty if the regulatory framework is not precisely defined. We therefore call on the actors involved in legislation to come to a clear and speedy agreement.
The VDA still sees a need for adjustment to the definition of AI systems proposed by the EU Commission. The current definition by the Commission would also classify purely technical processes without any risk potential – such as in the development, manufacture or monitoring of products and systems – as a so-called ‘high-risk AI system’. A corresponding classification could result in all AI systems in and around the vehicle being classified as ‘high risk’.
An overly broad definition of high-risk AI systems, for which the draft law provides for additional requirements, would make the use and development of artificial intelligence in cars in Europe very difficult, slow down innovation and put the domestic automotive industry at an extreme international competitive disadvantage.
The draft regulation also stipulates that high-risk systems must be certified and audited by third parties. Such assessments mean a significant additional effort, high costs and should therefore only be used in absolutely necessary cases. According to the current status, however, numerous AI applications in the automotive industry that do not pose any risk potential would also be affected by the regulations.
VDA President Hildegard Müller: “Artificial intelligence is a key technology for companies in the automotive industry. The fact that European politicians want to create a secure legal framework for the use of AI in Europe is therefore to be welcomed. However, the possibilities and development opportunities that Artificial Intelligence offers should be more thoroughly considered in the legislative process. With the present draft, Europe threatens to become entangled in red tape and to slow down domestic industry in a globally intensified competition. With the changes to the present draft proposed by the VDA, AI can be applied safely in the automobile and at the same time agile and innovative further development of the technology is enabled.”
The VDA position paper on the AI Act can be found here.