An independent think tank has warned that driverless cars will need to undergo 'driving tests' to ensure they meet national highways rules.
Brussels-based independent think tank the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC), said EU regulators were ‘still stuck in the slow lane’ and were far from answering the many research and regulatory questions that need to be considered before such vehicles can be put on sale.
It suggested one challenge will be ensuring that autonomous cars sold in Europe are capable of following national road rules in 28 countries. EU rules on safety approvals for new cars will need to be revised to include ‘driving tests’ for automated and fully-autonomous cars, which would independently verify that they will operate safely under all conditions.
A new report from the ETSC says the priority must be ensuring that the promised safety benefits are delivered in real world driving.
The ETSC says EU rules on road infrastructure safety should also be revised to meet the needs of such vehicles, for example clear road markings.
ETSC executive director Antonio Avenoso said: ‘Automated vehicles are already starting to appear on Europe’s roads, but regulators are still stuck in the slow lane. It is crucial that we get a much greater understanding of what the real world safety benefits would be, and what new risks would be introduced before these vehicles are put on sale.’
In the short-term, ETSC wants the EU to require mandatory installation in all new cars of ‘effective and proven driver assistance systems’, such as Automated Emergency Braking and overridable Intelligent Speed Assistance.
It also wants the EU to develop a new framework for approving future automated technologies as well as fully autonomous vehicles.
The report says EU driving licence regulations will need to be updated to reflect the need for drivers to learn how to safely take back command from automated driving systems.
ETSC also said carmakers must apply full openness and transparency in disclosing collision data for automated vehicles so the information can be used to help prevent future accidents.