The European Commission is to draw up rules to govern self-driving vehicles to catch up with China and the US and become a leader in the technology.
Measures to be unveiled include €450 million of investment into road and telecoms networks, both essential pieces of infrastructure for driverless vehicles to connect and communicate. There will also be a new collaboration between member states to draw up rules applying to the vehicles.
The EU will also create a team of ethical experts to devise answers to some of the questions facing autonomous vehicle programmers, such as how cars should behave in an accident.
Speaking at the Financial Times’ Future of the Car Summit in London, Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc will promise ‘to make Europe a world leader for autonomous mobility systems.’ She will also announce ‘a new partnership involving industry, member states and the commission to ensure a consolidated approach towards research and pre-deployment’. The move is an important step towards drawing up rules that apply to all of its nations.
‘Autonomous mobility will only really take off to the extent that it is accepted by passengers and citizens as human beings and by society at large,’ Bulc will tell the summit. ‘As human beings, there is only so much new we can handle at one given time.’
While a number of EU countries, including the UK and Germany, are introducing rules governing the use of autonomous vehicles, especially allowing for testing on public roads, there is no EU-wide framework in place. This creates a problem with driverless cars and trucks crossing borders and impacts the haulage sector, which is likely to require this free movement from the technology, greatly.
Meanwhile, France is preparing for the arrival of autonomous vehicles, with a report that outlines ambitious plans for the country to catch up with others developing and regulating the technology.
President Emmanuel Macron announced in March a legislative framework for 2019 to place the country ’at the forefront of experimentation and industrialisation’ of autonomous vehicles, a framework that would allow the French builders to conduct campaigns of experimentation to advance the development of such vehicles.
A recent Bloomberg report highlighted that the UK is leading the way in shaping autonomous technology in Europe, with four major cities allowing trials on public roads, and testing set to begin on motorways around the country as well. France however, only allows such testing on a case-by-case basis at present, despite having two of Europe’s leading vehicle manufacturers headquartered in the country.
The report, presented by Anne-Marie Idrac, High Representative for the National Strategy for the Development of Autonomous Vehicles, builds on questions surrounding the technology, including concerns over security issues and liability in an accident.
Both PSA Group and Renault are developing autonomous cars, with the former believing it can bring a product to market by 2020, although what level of autonomy this pertains to remains to be seen.