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EU policy makers plan envisages connected cars in widespread use by 2019

Out-Law News | 30 Nov 2016 | 3:44 pm | 4 min. read

Connected cars could be in widespread use by 2019, under plans outlined by the European Commission.

Under its newly published connected cars strategy (12-page / 122KB PDF), 'cooperative intelligent transport systems' (C-ITS) services that would be available in 2019 would include "hazardous location notifications", which include warnings to vehicles about upcoming traffic, road works and the weather. "Signage applications" would also be in use, including in-vehicle speed limits and traffic signal priority requests from designated vehicles.

Further C-ITS services would be deployed at a later stage, such as information on fuel stations, guidance on available parking and city centre route planning.

The Commission urged industry to base initial deployment of C-ITS services on ETSI ITS-G5 vehicle communication standards, but with a view to utilising '5G' technology or other future communication standards once they are finalised.

"Generally, drivers do not care what communication technology is used to transmit C-ITS messages, but will increasingly expect to receive all information on traffic and safety conditions seamlessly across Europe," the Commission said.  "This can only be achieved through a hybrid communication approach, i.e. by combining complementary communication technologies."

The Commission said interoperability is central to "an integrated transport system" and said "EU-wide deployment specifications therefore have to be defined and agreed upon" in the area of C-ITS. The technical "communication profiles" currently being developed by those involved in C-ITS projects should therefore be published to enable them to be tested for interoperability, it said.

"Granting mutual access to communication profiles will ensure that best practises and lessons learned from real life operation are shared," the Commission said. "It should also lead to a gradual convergence of profiles, creating the conditions for EU-wide interoperability. The aim is to enable a single market for C-ITS services in Europe based on common communication profiles, which, however, leave space for future innovative services."

Expert in connected cars Ben Gardner of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, who earlier this week identified the potential importance of the Commission's new strategy, said the Commission's "championing of collaboration" was welcome. However, he said the development of C-ITS "involves a much wider range of stakeholders than the classic automotive supply chain".

"This will now require the expertise of manufacturers, software and hardware suppliers, telecoms providers and those providing the infrastructure within which C-ITS will operate," Gardner said. "With many different agendas and objectives at play, this may be a challenge, but we are already beginning to see collaboration in this space, such as BMW, Daimler and Audi grouping together to acquire Nokia's Nokia Here mapping unit"

In its paper the Commission also set out its view that all data broadcast by connected cars "will, in principle, qualify as personal data". It said the processing of the data would need to adhere to EU data protection laws, including the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) when it comes into force in 2018.

The Commission said providers of C-ITS services should "offer transparent terms and conditions to end-users, using clear and plain language in an intelligible way and in easily accessible forms, enabling them to give their consent for the processing of their personal data".

The Commission plans to issue guidance in 2018 to help businesses develop C-ITS in line with the principles of data protection and privacy by design and default. Those principles are enshrined in the GDPR.

Gardner said: "Designating all data broadcast by connected cars as 'personal data' means that all those involved in gathering, storing and processing the data will need to comply with data protection and privacy regulations. For some, such as OEMs and tier suppliers, this may mean having to become more familiar with and aware of new regulatory frameworks which may not have historically been at the heart of their business."

"As data begins to become a valuable commodity in the automotive sector, businesses will need to ensure that they have adequate processes, procedures and safeguards in place to ensure that they do not fall foul of the applicable regulations because, in some cases, the reputational and financial consequences can be severe," he said.

Public information campaigns are necessary to build consumer trust and acceptance in connected cars and to "demonstrate the positive impacts on the transport system" of their use, as well as their compliance with data protection and privacy rules, the Commission said.

The Commission also said that it would "steer the development of a common security and certificate policy for the deployment and operation of C-ITS in Europe", in partnership with stakeholders, and issue guidance on that policy next year. Without "clear rules" at EU level on cybersecurity for C-ITS, the deployment of those systems "will be delayed", it said.

The "coordinated deployment" of interoperable C-ITS will, between 2018 and 2030, deliver up to three times the economic benefit to the EU as the cumulative costs involved in introducing those systems in that period, according to research commissioned by the Commission.

The Commission said: "The coordinated and rapid deployment of cooperative, connected and automated vehicles in road transport urgently requires EU action. If successful, deploying these vehicles will make an important contribution to improving road safety, increasing the efficiency of road transport, and ensuring the competitiveness of EU industry."

"The Commission will seek to ensure synergies and coherence between ongoing and future initiatives and support the leading position of the Union in the field of cooperative, connected and automated vehicles. It calls upon all parties concerned, and in particular member states and industry, to support the approach presented in this communication, and collaborate at all levels and across sectors to start deploying cooperative intelligent transport systems successfully in 2019," it said.

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