Vehicle automation is considered to be among those technological developments with the greatest potential to solve society’s key mobility problems, both existing and future, at an international level. This technology, or group of technologies, promises to enhance the safety, comfort and sustainability of one of the fundamental pillars of societies relying on the trade of goods and services: transport.
A lack of regulation – or, to be more precise, a lack of appropriate regulation – is widely accepted as being one of the non-technological barriers getting in the way both of the large-scale roll-out of autonomous vehicles and of their very development.
On this latter point, developers of vehicle-automation technology need to carry out tests on actual roads in order to be able to (a) enhance and validate their designs at a technical level and (b) evaluate the benefits of the functionality under development as well as its acceptability to customers and end users.
Pending agreement on supranational regulation, a responsibility that in Europe falls to the UNECE (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe), individual EU member states are in the process of amending their own legislation or introducing new legal means by which developers can carry out this kind of testing on open roads. Spain, the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Sweden, Finland, Greece and Austria, amongst others, have published codes of good practice or approved legal exceptions for these types of tests. However, this is leading to a significant (albeit temporary) fragmentation of legislative framework between neighbouring countries. The US and Japan are simultaneously working on their own automated-vehicle road-testing regulations.
Applus+ IDIADA’s homologation and engineering experts contribute to the harmonisation of legal requirements in this field including working closely with the Ministry of Internal Affairs in the UNECE’s WP.29, as well as participating in a variety of projects, working groups and forums sponsored by the European Commission with a view to promoting European and international harmonisation (COMPANION, VRA, CARTRE, Trilateral EU/US/Japan).