The future of transport: developing standards

Out-Law Analysis | 18 Nov 2020 | 11:59 am | 5 min. read

Standardisation and other interventions will play a crucial role in delivering the next generation of private vehicles, passenger services and their integration with the wider transport system.

Consumers are increasingly recognising the extensive social, economic and environmental benefits of connected, electric and autonomous vehicles. The British Standards Institution (BSI) is working with manufacturers, technology companies, road authorities and consumer bodies to develop the national and international standards which will shape and define the future of transport.

Written by Nick Fleming, head of transport and mobility at the BSI.

What are the barriers to market evolution?

There are a range of technical, operational, legal and commercial barriers which manufacturers and operators of connected, automated and electric vehicles, their supply chains and users need to overcome. These include:

  • the need for a reliable, interoperable charging infrastructure and increased battery development to accelerate zero-emission electric vehicles (EVs);
  • achieving cyber secure vehicles;
  • designing and testing partially or fully automated driving systems that are safe;
  • ensuring common approaches for sharing data between systems and operators for shared vehicles or for 'on demand' travel services;
  • maintaining consumer trust in the safety of the technologies and their ultimate benefits compared to the status quo; and
  • adapting to post Covid-19 priorities in respect of shared transport.

What is the role of standardisation?

The development of standards will play a vital role as the market for connected, electric and autonomous vehicles develops.

Standardisation involves shaping and defining "what good looks like" in any given area. That might be a common language to describe or exchange something; an agreed way to design or test a product; to carry out or implement a process; or to deliver a service. In the same way that real change requires a holistic approach to issues such as decarbonisation, traffic congestion and road safety, standards increasingly take a 'systems' approach and draw upon cross-sector knowledge to tackle problems and challenges.

Standards represent 'good practice' in the sense of a collective industry view of how something should be done at a particular point in time. Unlike regulation, standards are for the most part voluntary. For standards to stay relevant in fast-moving markets they must be easy to update. BSI's 'publicly available specifications' (PAS) and new 'Flex' process have been designed with this in mind.

What is BSI doing to support connected vehicles?

BSI develops all its standards through an open, consultative process involving stakeholders including manufacturers, technology companies, road authorities and consumer bodies. BSI brings these stakeholders together via technical committees that develop and input into national and international standards. It also assembles project steering groups to accelerate standardisation, for example through the BSI PAS process.

Nick Fleming


BSI has been working closely with the UK government's Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) to create a series of PAS standards to support safe trialling and development of automated vehicles in the UK. 

BSI has recently worked on a number of national and international standard-setting projects designed to support the development of connected, automated, electric vehicles and smart transport.

'Connected' standards

A new joint ISO/SAE standard, the first of its kind, has been developed to support the automotive industry in aligning itself with emerging cyber security regulation from the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). ISO SAE 21434 has had input from the UK and global automotive community, and is due to be published in 2021.

BSI PAS standards – such as PAS 1885 on vehicle security and PAS 11281 on connected and autonomous vehicles – have led the way in thinking about automotive cyber security. This is true in both the context of the vehicles themselves; and the supporting ecosystem including data services, aftermarket, communications between vehicles and roadside infrastructure.

'Automated' standards

BSI has been working closely with the UK government's Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) to create a series of PAS standards to support safe trialling and development of automated vehicles in the UK. These documents are intended to complement the DfT/CCAV Code of Practice.

PAS 1881, published in early 2020, sets out requirements to "assure the safety of automated vehicle trials and testing" within a standardised safety case developed with input from testbeds, trialling companies and road authorities.

PAS 1883, published in August 2020, sets out a taxonomy for describing the intended operational design domains (ODD) of an automated driving system (ADS) – a key piece of work to ensure developers and trialling organisations can communicate the safe operating conditions of their ADS including the physical environment, accurately and consistently. This will help reduce confusion in relation to vehicle capability and suitability for given environments.

Still in development, PAS 1882 and PAS 1884 will look at data collection requirements during trials to support forensic investigation and safety driver training and competences respectively - both areas of significant interest for the legal and insurance communities. The role of data in supporting safety improvements and performance benchmarking is considered by some in this space as key to public acceptance of connected and autonomous vehicle technologies and wider deployment.

BSI's work takes place against a wider backdrop of international standards being developed by the likes of the ISO, ITU, IEEE and SAE. ISO standards such as ISO 21448 apply to designing active safety features and partially automated driving seen in some production vehicles. ISO 22737, which is currently in development and due to publish in 2021, is the first international standard to set performance and testing requirements for low speed automated driving (LSAD) systems also known as ‘pods’. BSI has published a comprehensive 'roadmap' of the current standards landscape and of future areas of development available at its website.

Nick Fleming


What is certain is the transformative role transport and traveller data will play, alongside smartphones, in delivering multi-modal ‘end to end’ journeys and 'mobility as a service' (MaaS)

Standards in areas such as autonomous shipping and flight with unmanned aerial systems (UAS) are also in development with some drone operator standards already in use.

'Shared' and 'smart' standards

The impact of Covid-19 represents a new challenge for the future of shared mobility, ride sharing and 'on demand' passenger services. However, what is certain is the transformative role transport and traveller data will play, alongside smartphones, in delivering multi-modal ‘end to end’ journeys and 'mobility as a service' (MaaS).

The rise of smartphone apps, digital platforms and data-led services has the potential to revolutionise passenger transport and shared mobility in responding to these challenges. BSI has been working with the UK government, transport operators and data companies to look at the opportunities for data standards to support future mobility services; including the application of European standards like the Network Timetable Exchange (NeTEx) to overcome interoperability barriers to sharing journey and fare information.

Electric vehicle standards

The successful scale-up of electric vehicles will depend on a number of factors - including the development of a supply chain for zero-carbon vehicles; tackling safety issues; and problems such as 'range anxiety' by ensuring an effective and interoperable charging infrastructure.

BSI is currently working with the UK government's Office of Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) to develop standards for energy smart appliances and smart electric vehicle charging points, including PAS 1878 and PAS 1879. It is also working with Innovate UK in support of the UK's Faraday Battery Challenge to develop three PAS projects: PAS 7060, 7061 and 7062. These PAS, which are due to be published soon, will help develop the UK's battery manufacturing capability and extend electric vehicle battery manufacturing supply chains.

BSI's work on both the Faraday and Energy Smart Appliances programmes will also explore wider market needs, pinning down future areas in which standards can support the further development of electric vehicle smart charging and battery markets. This will include the interaction and dependencies between realising EVs at scale and the ability of the UK’s energy system to cope with demand from charging. BSI's formal technical committee for electric vehicle standards, PEL/69, is currently involved in directing European and international standardisation of importance to electric vehicle development.

The key trends of connectivity, automation, smart/shared and electrification to deliver improved safety, network efficiency and decarbonisation are being seen not only in relation to road transport but also clearly aviation, rail and marine with the opportunities from sustainable flight and autonomous shipping becoming clearer and more important.

Future of mobility
The way we move is changing radically – climate change, superfast telecoms networks, electrification, AI and digital payments are rewriting the transport rulebook. Autonomous and shared vehicles and mobility as a service are fast becoming a reality.
Future of mobility