Further reform to existing legislation and the Highway Code is under consideration with a view to allowing the use of 'Advanced Lane Keeping Systems (ALKS)' that can take control of vehicles and can keep them in lane on motorways.
The Action Plan for the Growth and Transformation of Enterprises regulates the testing regime and requires those who wish to test autonomous vehicles to obtain authorisation.
The Law for Orientation and Mobility was introduced in 2019 and sets out conditions for accessing vehicle data, for example to support accident investigation.
More than 50 autonomous vehicle test projects have taken place since 2014 and the French government has made €40m available for new projects.
In 2015 the Directorate General of Traffic (DGT) passed Instruction 15/V-113 which sets out the authorisation framework to conduct tests or research trials for vehicles with automation Levels 3, 4 and 5.
DGT and Intel subsidiary Mobileye are collaborating to prepare Spain's infrastructure and regulatory system for autonomous vehicles. DGT is also seeking to develop a policy framework for efficiently validating the safety of an autonomous vehicle.
Autonomous vehicles are at the centre of Dubai policy makers' plans to make the city greener and safer. The Dubai Self-Driving Transport Strategy has set a target for a quarter of all mobility trips in Dubai to be via self-driving transport by 2030 to reduce carbon emissions and accidents.
Resolution (3) of 2019 regulating test runs of autonomous vehicles in Dubai is in force. The legislation requires autonomous vehicles and their drivers to be insured against accidents and civil liability. The Dubai Roads and Transport Authority is preparing the infrastructure and logistics for testing.
In Australia, the National Transport Commission (NTC) has released a set of guidelines for trials of automated vehicles. The NTC has also launched an automated vehicle program which is regularly updated with a view to achieving end-to-end regulation for automated vehicles.
The government is also considering reform to rules on motor accident injury insurance, in-service safety, and government access to vehicle-generated data.
Pursuing a globally consistent approach to regulation
Appropriate regulation will be crucial to the development and deployment of connected and autonomous vehicles. However, with different jurisdictions being at varying stages of implementation and potentially adopting inconsistent regulatory regimes, running legally compliant tests and developing legally compliant vehicles will be a challenge for many businesses operating across borders.
In Europe, the absence of a consistent continent-wide approach could be a barrier to the use of automated vehicles, or at least require users to disable automated systems every time they cross a border. While a joined-up and consistent international approach to regulation would be welcomed, it is unlikely. Some progress has being made, however. UNECE adopted an ALKS Regulation in June 2020 with a view to promoting international alignment on the use of advanced lane keeping systems on public roads. It is an important first step towards the development of systems with higher levels of autonomy.
Areas where reform is needed
There is much to be covered through amendments to existing regulations and the creation of new ones. Core areas which will need to be addressed include:
- Legislation clarifying the rules applicable to the use of autonomous vehicles and the provision of mobility services;
- Creation of a testing and approval scheme for autonomous vehicles;
- Use of simulation testing in validation and approval process;
- New licensing regimes for "drivers" and operating regimes for service providers;
- Harmonisation of requirements internationally.
A way forward
The impact of Covid-19 on the development of new vehicles and mobility solutions is still to be seen. However, economic pressures are likely to shrink R&D budgets and cause many businesses to projects put on hold. However, the pandemic may also accelerate the development of automated freight and 'last mile' solutions.
In any event, cooperation and collaboration between governments, manufacturers, insurance providers and technology companies will be important in dealing with regulatory challenge. Businesses should cooperate with public authorities and governments by sharing any issues and risks that have emerged from early testing to develop legislation that could manage those issues and risks in an appropriate way.
By incorporating input from different stakeholders, a new legislative framework could be designed to account for the various potential uses of automated vehicles and other fast-paced technologies.
More flexible and agile forms of legislation could also be considered that can more readily track technology, or which focuses on achieving specific outcomes for the benefit of citizens and the environment, whilst giving businesses flexibility on how they achieve those outcomes.
As we move from the development of new products and services through to their commercialisation, it will be paramount for those in the industry to ensure that the products and services are legal by design. Now is therefore an ideal opportunity to influence what the regulatory frameworks for future vehicles and mobility services might look like.