Should we have self-driving cars

Self-driving cars in the EU: science fiction becomes reality 

What are the challenges of autonomous driving in the EU?

  • Road safety: Since driverless vehicles have to share the road with non-automated vehicles, pedestrians and bicycles, appropriate safety requirements and harmonization of traffic rules at EU level are essential.
  • Liability issues: Since self-driving vehicles transfer driving tasks from humans to autonomous technologies, the existing EU liability rules need to be further developed and clarified. Who is responsible in the event of an accident: the driver or the manufacturer?
  • Data processing: The EU data protection rules also apply to the automated sector, but no specific measures have yet been taken to ensure cybersecurity and to protect self-driving vehicles from cyber attacks.
  • Ethical issues: Self-driving vehicles must respect human dignity and freedom of choice. EU Artificial Intelligence Guidelines are currently being developed, but specific standards may be needed.
  • Infrastructure: Significant investments in research and innovation are essential to develop technologies and provide the necessary infrastructures.

What is the EU doing?

As technologies evolve rapidly, the EU is working to ensure common rules.

Following the communication from the European Commission "Towards automated mobility: an EU strategy for the mobility of the future", the Dutch MP Wim van de Camp (EPP) wrote an own-initiative report on autonomous driving, which Parliament will receive on January 15th 2019 accepted. The report states:

  • EU policies and legislation on automated and connected transport should cover all modes of transport, including short sea shipping, barges, drones carrying goods and light rail systems.
  • The standardization efforts at international level must be further coordinated in order to guarantee the safety and interoperability of vehicles across borders.
  • Accident data storage should be mandatory in automated vehicles to improve accident investigation and solve the problem of liability.
  • Appropriate rules on data protection and ethics in the field of automated transport should be developed quickly, also in order to increase the confidence of European citizens in driverless vehicles.
  • Particular attention should be paid to the development of self-driving vehicles accessible to people with reduced mobility or disabilities.

Automation levels and schedule

Automated cars are equipped with sensors, integrated cameras, on-board computers, high-precision GPS devices, satellite receivers and short-range radars and take over all or part of the driving tasks.