Policy and regulatory issues for new automated mobility services
Connected cars lie at the interface between transport regulation, ICT regulation and environmental regulation. Introducing new technologies on the road is an ongoing process.
“From a regulator and technologist point of view, we’ve got to handle two different fundamental problems. We’ve got evolutionary technologies and revolutionary technologies – and we’ve got to deal with that all at the same time,” said Ian Yarnold, Head, International Vehicle Standards Division, Department for Transport, UK, who moderated a recent panel discussion of experts gathered at the Future Networked Car Symposium at ITU Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. “That creates a really interesting challenge for all of us, to make sure that we get those technologies … for a healthier, safer and happier society.”
But, regulators face difficult questions when regulating new technologies that will be introduced on our busy and increasingly complex roads, namely “what is a tolerable risk [for safety]?” voiced Yarnold.
This session explored how authorities in charge of the regulation and certification of vehicles are working to ensure that automated and connected vehicles provide better mobility for all.
New technologies, new regulatory challenges
Despite the potential of these new systems, and technological improvements and support, trends in mortality and injury rates today remain high.
“For the coming decades, we will stick with ADAS [advanced driver-assistance systems] and that means that the systems have to work together with the human driver. This means that there are some important risks which have to do with the human driver,” said Ellen Berends, Researcher at the Dutch Safety Board.
Berends showed participants photos of road accidents involving ADAS, warning participants of the potential overreliance on the technology or a lack of understanding of its limitations by human drivers. She also pointed out that driving tests today do not include ADAS systems – and doing so is not possible given the many different operating systems that are in use today.
She advocated for the need to legislate all levels of automation and “raise the bar” if you want to use ADAS as a tool to improve road safety, in order to protect all road users.
“It is unclear how manufacturers have to show that their systems are safe, and this is especially true for levels 1 and 2,” said Berends. “When they say that this is not a system that has any influence on safety, then the influence on safety is not assessed at all.”
Current regulatory landscape
“Safety is always number one,” said Jane Doherty, Director of International Policy, Fuel Economy and Consumer Protection, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, United States (NHTSA).
All vehicles in the USA must meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) before being deployed on the roads. New vehicles are subject to the same FMVSS requirements, said Doherty, but when it comes to new technologies, they want to encourage new entrants and innovation. As such, the NHTSA have introduced nimble regulatory practices, with 12 voluntary safety systems, and voluntary guidance and policy considerations outlined in the ‘Automated Driving Systems 2.0: A Vision for Safety’ framework.
They need the time to allow manufacturers to develop these new technologies, so when they write regulations – “if we do write regulations specific for ADAS,” she said – they will be based on science, data and transparency to make sure that they work for everybody.
But, Manuel Marsilio, General Manager at CONEBI, said that “for us, it’s all about safer cycling, so lifesaving technologies in cars and in heavy-duty vehicles … should become mandatory in the future, and not just an optional extra. So, regulation and standards, in this context, play a crucial role.”
From a standards perspective, automated cars need to see cyclists, “but what do they look like?” he asked.
There is a need for cooperation and knowledge sharing in the automotive industry regarding the relationship between cars and bicycles to ensure the safe use of the road for all, he said.
A realistic timeline?
10 years ago, manufacturers were saying that automated vehicles would be on the road today – but we are still 20 to 30 years away, said Yarnold.
As the automotive industry moves to a fully autonomous future using artificial intelligence (AI), regulators and policymakers will face new challenges, predicts Niels Andersen, General Manager of the CAR 2 CAR Communication Consortium.
“The moment you use AI we have self-learning systems but a potential consequence is that you might no longer be able to do diagnostic testing, by that I mean, you can’t expect the same result twice because the system will have learned,” Andersen said.
So, how do you effectively test AI? “I think there is no clear answer at the moment,” he said.
A member of the audience from the World Health Organization suggested that taking a phased approach, mixing self-driving cars and ‘regular’ traffic, could be a way forward.
This step-by-step approach is already underway in several countries. Helen pointed out that several locations across the USA are already testing various levels of automation.
Cooperative, international approach needed
By the end of the session, the panellists agreed that a cooperative, international approach to regulation must be taken as we enter this new phase of mobility.
“In order to move to the future technology on-board in the vehicles, we need to change how regulation addresses the test for the type approval process,” said Nuria Roman, Chief, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism, Spain. “We need to change the way that the requirements are defined, and how the tests are performed.”
“The vehicle is already complex and sophisticated product that will become more and more sophisticated tomorrow, so it is very important to regulate at the international level,” said Luca Rocco, Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport, Italy.
The session concluded with a strong call for ‘joined up’ or collaborative regulation between agencies across verticals. And the moderator mentioned ITU and UNECE had a strong role to play here, by putting ICT regulators in dialogue with the transport regulators.
The 2020 ITU-UNECE Symposium on the Future Networked Car was kindly supported by Gold sponsor DEKRA, Silver sponsor Qualcomm and Bronze sponsor RoadDB.