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July 2, 2015

RUSSIA: Self-driving needs global push: Knorr-Bremse chairman

Knorr-Bremse says more global political will is required to see autonomous driving truly come to fruition.

Knorr-Bremse says more global political will is required to see autonomous driving truly come to fruition.

Speaking at the recent St Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), where he launched a strong attack on Western sanctions against Russia on the same stage as President Vladimir Putin, the brakes supplier also issued a rallying call for extra political effort in the autonomous field.

“The regulations are my concern,” said Knorr-Bremse owner and chairman, Heinz Hermann Thiele. “If you look at the globally available system with enormous advantages for people, you will need to come up with convincing regulators, legislator people, insurance organisations and so on.

“I would like to make a suggestion. What we need in addition to technology, we need a shield of global political support. It is not in the same order as environmental issues. It is an issue which is coming closer, it has enormous impact for society of the future.”

The Knorr-Bremse chief noted different political systems did not always offer the same solutions to autonomous driving and urged a more widespread consensus of opinion as how best to regulate the field.

“I do hope we will join globally to identify the opportunities such a system gives to the economy and to people,” he said. “This is the beginning of the road, we are just entering the road, there will be a lot of obstacles to overcome.

“You can not have a system which just brings a truck [or] car to a stop if something fails – you need something more sophisticated than that.

“I am quite optimistic about that. My issue is what are the factors which play maybe even a more important role to create technology.”

Thiele used his address to slam international economic sanctions that are causing substantial pain to an already fragile Russian economy which is enduring business interest rates of up to 18%, high inflation and a plunging rouble, noting the measures had seen Germany lose 50% of its exports to the country.

However, despite the clear challenges for overseas companies operating in Russia, the component head insisted Knorr-Bremse would last the course.

“We will stay for a long time despite the situation we experience right now,” he said.

“We will overcome that problem, I am quite optimistic.”

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