Glossary: The most important terms in the 2021 “SocAIty” study

From A for automated valet parking to T for the trolley problem, the &Audi Initiative’s 2021 “SocAIty” study of autonomous driving includes several technical terms. Whether you are a technology enthusiast or want to get a basic idea of certain key words from the fields of law, ethics, and data protection, you will find what you are looking for in our glossary.

A for automated valet parking

Automated valet parking is a fully automated system that frees drivers not only from looking for a parking spot, but also parking in the parking garage. The car is simply assigned to a drop-off area and the vehicle and intelligent parking garage infrastructure take over driving to an available space and park automatically.

A for anonymization

Anonymization is the alteration of personal information so that the particulars of personal or material circumstances can no longer be associated with a determined or determinable natural person or such an association can only be established at an inordinate cost in terms of time, money, and labor.

A for autonomous driving

In the context of this study, autonomous driving is applied broadly as a synonym for SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) levels 3 to 5. Automated vehicles up to level 4 can manage certain courses of action without a driver. Under certain circumstances, the person must intervene in the process or completely take over certain tasks that the vehicle cannot manage on its own. The person and the vehicle share the task of driving, however responsibility remains with the person. Autonomous level 5 electric vehicles do not require any additional human aid. Their programming therefore must enable them to operate independently in all situations. Controls like the steering wheel and gas pedal are gone and drivers become passengers.

B for the Brussels effect

The Brussels effect is the phenomenon by which European jurisprudence indirectly impacts the US and other international markets. One reason for this is that technological innovations in the United States are usually subject to significantly fewer and later regulatory provisions. The EU in general and Germany in particular often regulate early and usually involve manufacturers from the outset.

D for data stewardship

This term describes a relationship of trust between individuals and organizations within which the use of personal data is regularly “renegotiated” in a transparent process. It is thereby assumed that all personal data are the property of the users and said users then individually consent to the use of their data. The objective is to enable people to have a say in decisions regarding the use of their own data. This could even extend to the point that certain personal data can only be accessed (particularly by third parties) if the users are compensated.

D for data collection

Modern cars gather conventional vehicle data like engine temperature, oil level, speed, and tire pressure. In addition, they also collect individual drives, routes, and information on individual driver behavior as well as image and video material within the vehicle. These are then combined with environmental data and information about weather conditions and traffic and then assessed.

D for data protection

Data protection pertains to protection of personal data. The emphasis is not on the content of the data, but rather the right to self-determination with respect to information.

D for data security

Contrary to data protection, data security refers to general protection of data – regardless of whether or not personal information is referenced. Consequently, not only personal data, but rather all of a company’s data fall under data security. It is therefore not a question of whether data can be collected and processed, but rather which steps must be taken to ensure that these data are protected


E for edge computing

Edge computing is part of a distributed computing topology in which information processing happens near the edge of the network, where things and people produce and consume that information. That means that it is a matter of decentralized data processing: instead of resorting to a far-away data center, the data are processed in the devices or in their own cloud, which aggregates the data. That is intended to reduce latency rates, which creates an essential speed advantage, particularly in applications that need data virtually in real time – like autonomous driving.

G for geofencing

Geofencing is the technical capability of defining and marking a particular geographic zone. Using GPS, it is possible to localize the zone in which a vehicle is located. Depending on which characteristics and regulations have been determined for a zone, particular driving modes can be activated in a vehicle. It would also be possible to completely prohibit access to a particular zone.

S for strict liability

Under German law, this includes motor vehicle liability, wherein the vehicle owner is subject to strict liability. In other words, if a person is killed or injured or property is damaged while driving the vehicle, the owner must compensate the harmed party for the resulting damages. In Germany, liability is covered primarily by means of obligatory third-party vehicle insurance.

L for liability

In general, liability means support for culpable breach of obligation in the event of loss – the obligation to compensate for damages. Personal, material, or pecuniary harm are necessary to justify liability. Failure to take necessary action contrary to one’s obligations can also result in liability.

P for personal information

Personal information is information that can be related to a person on the basis of which said person can be identified. Among other things, this includes a person’s name, address, telephone number, location information, or information about a person’s appearance.

S for self-driving experiences & proof of concept

These terms identify initiatives that enable users to gain initial personal autonomous driving experience. Manufacturers and dealers thereby have the opportunity to test the technical maturity level and marketability of new technologies and services. Currently, this frequently occurs within the framework of time-limited research projects in secure environments, and with limited access. Tests include trials of autonomous shuttles in German cities like Berlin, Hamburg, or Karlsruhe and the Volkswagen Group’s automated valet parking tests.

S for sensitive data

Sensitive data are an element of personal data that provides information about a person’s ethnic background, political or religious worldview, union membership, genetic and biometric information, health information, or sexual orientation.

T for the trolley problem

In the past, it was not the car, but the streetcar or trolley that characterized everyday mobility in society. In a thought experiment, a trolley goes out of control and threatens to run over five people. Unfortunately, there is one additional person on a siding. The switch operator could divert the trolley onto the siding. This raises the question: by changing the switch, does the death of one person become acceptable if it saves the lives of five people on the other track?

Initiative &Audi


Initiative &Audi

The Audi initiative for a responsable use of new technological developments such as autonomous driving and artificial intelligence.

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