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Safety at core of new Framework to guide UN regulatory work on autonomous vehicles

Published: 04 September 2019

Autonomous vehicles are expected to bring enormous benefits to society in terms of enhanced mobility and increased safety. However, these benefits will only materialise if autonomous technologies are introduced in a transparent manner and based on the best global expertise and international cooperation. This is essential to guarantee the highest levels of safety and social acceptance.

To accomplish this, experts from the World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations under the leadership of China, the European Union, Japan and the United States, have developed a Framework Document to guide the future normative work of the United Nations on this strategic area for the future of mobility.

The Framework, published today, will apply to automated/autonomous vehicles equipped with systems that can drive under the driver’s partial supervision or without supervision – what is generally referred to as automation Levels 3 to 5.

Safety as the cornerstone of all developments

The Framework puts safety at the centre of any development in this area, stressing that:

“The level of safety to be ensured by automated/autonomous vehicles implies that “an automated/autonomous vehicle shall not cause any non-tolerable risk”, meaning that automated/autonomous vehicle systems, under their automated mode, shall not cause any traffic accidents resulting in injury or death that are reasonably foreseeable and preventable.”

Based on this principle, all automated driving functionalities must ensure road users’ safety and compliance with road traffic regulations.

The Framework lists a series of issues to be addressed by the World Forum as a matter of priority:

a. System Safety

b. Failsafe Response

c. Human Machine Interface  

d. Object Event Detection and Response (OEDR)

e. Conditions under which the automated system will operate

f. Validation for System Safety

g. Cybersecurity

h. Software Updates

i. Data storage and Event data recorder (EDR).

The Framework emphasizes that the technical provisions, guidance resolutions and evaluation criteria for automated vehicles developed through the World Forum will to the extent possible be performance based, technology neutral, and based on state-of-the-art technology while avoiding restrictions on future innovation.

International cooperation to accelerate regulatory work

Draft proposals on all these topics will be prepared over the coming months by 4 new technical groups, led by experts from Asia, Europe and North-America, to ensure the widest possible technical and geographical representation. These will inform the work of the World Forum’s Working Party on Automated/Autonomous and Connected Vehicles (GRVA) over the coming years.

The 4 groups will deal with:

  • Functional requirements for automated vehicles
  • Validation of the driving capability of automated vehicles
  • Cybersecurity and software updates
  • Data Storage Systems for Automated Driving and Event Data Recorders.

At its next meeting on 24-27 September 2019, GRVA will discuss, among other topics, some of the initial outcomes from these groups, including proposals on cybersecurity and the type approval of Level 3 systems that can be used on highways.

Note to editors

About autonomous driving at the World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations

The World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations, hosted by UNECE, is the intergovernmental platform responsible for the regulatory frameworks regarding the safety and environmental performance of vehicles, their subsystems and parts.

Countries from across the globe have been working under the World Forum since 2014 to develop internationally harmonized regulations resolutions and guidelines governing automated driving functionalities.

A dedicated working Party under the World Forum, the Working Party on Automated/Autonomous and Connected Vehicles (GRVA), was created in September 2018 to accelerate this work.

Composition of the four expert groups' leadership:

-          Functional Requirements for Automated Vehicles  

o   Richard Damm (Head of Division, German Transport and Infrastrukturen Ministry (Bundesministerium für Verkehr und digitale Infrastruktur - BMVI)

o    Ezana Wondimneh (Chief, International Policy, US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)

o   Chen Chunmei (Deputy Director, Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology - MIIT)

-          Validation Method for Automated Driving  

o   Takao Onoda, Senior Director of the Japanese National Traffic Safety and Environment Laboratory (NTSEL), former Director General of Japanese Automobile Standards Internationalization Center (JASIC)

o   Peter Strickwold Special Advisor to the Director, Netherlands’ Vehicles Authority (RDW)

o   Ibrahima Sow, Director, Road Safety Programs (ASFC), Motor Vehicle Safety, Transport Canada

-          Cybersecurity and Over-the-Air Software Updates  

o   Tetsuya Niikuni, Chief Researcher, NTSEL, Japan

o   Dr. Darren Handley, Cyber Security Lead - Road & Rail, Transport Security, Resilience & Response, Department for Transport, UK

o   Mary Versailles, Senior Advisory, International Policy, Fuel Economy and Consumer Programs, US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)

-          Data Storage Systems and Event Data Recorders  for Automated Driving

o   Tetsuya Niikuni, Chief Researcher, NTSEL, Japan

o   Tim Guiting, Senior Advisor, RDW, Netherlands

o   Jane Doherty, Director, International Policy, Fuel Economy and Consumer Programs, US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)


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