Automated vehicles in the EU

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Publication Date 07/01/2016
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Automated vehicle technologies allow the transfer of driving functions from a human driver to a computer. Automation, and in particular digitalisation, of driving will change road transport in a way which is viewed as a revolution in the field of mobility. As human error is the main reason for road traffic accidents, driving which is automatically controlled by a computer is expected to make future road transport safer and more secure. It has also the potential to be more environmentally friendly, efficient and accessible.

Worldwide, automobile manufacturers and technology firms are working on driving system innovation. Agreement by all stakeholders on the desired deployment of the new technologies will provide developers with the certainty they need for investments. For an effective communication between the technological and political spheres, categorisation and terminology are being developed which define different levels of vehicle automation. Motor vehicles are highly complex systems which need advanced technical and legal standards in terms of road safety requirements. The technical requirements as well as international traffic rules are agreed at United Nations level and are currently in the process of being assessed with a view to the increasing automation of vehicles.

The European Union and its Member States participate in international working groups which are revising the regulations as prerequisites for the deployment of automated vehicles. Furthermore the European Union is funding research on automated road transport as a priority in the Horizon 2020 Transport Research programme. Some key elements of the discussions on political and technical aspects are the questions of how data protection and cyber security can be secured and liability issues can be solved.

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