European Transport Ministers sign Amsterdam Declaration on steps for development and harmonization of connected, autonomous driving in Europe
On 14 April, the transport ministers of all 28 EU member states signed the Amsterdam Declaration, laying down agreements on the steps necessary for the development of connected, autonomous driving technology in the EU. The signatories pledge to draw up rules and regulations that will allow autonomous vehicles to be used on the roads.
A lack of good cooperation between EU member states could give rise to a jumble of different rules, thereby preventing the large-scale availability of this new technology. Agreements also need to be made on issues such as liability, privacy, data security and the effects of self-driving vehicles on traffic and the road network.
Connected and automated vehicles are already being tested on public roads and are gradually being introduced on the market for commercial use. In the early stages of this transition, open competition between different models and initiatives is needed to instigate creativity and innovation. However, both industry and users demand that new services and systems should be interoperable and compatible when crossing borders.
The European Commission has taken important steps with the Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems (C-ITS) platform, the Round Table on Connected and Automated Driving and the Gear 2030 initiative. Nevertheless, a more coordinated approach is called for between Member States and at European level to remove barriers and to promote a step-by-step learning-by-experience approach such as the European truck platooning challenge. It is essential to support an exchange of information of results and best practices by linking and integrating such initiatives.—Amsterdam Declaration
Ongoing cooperation between governments and industry is key. It would be impractical to have to change the settings on your car every time you cross a border.—Dutch transport minister Melanie Schultz
The Declaration defines the following objectives:
to work towards a coherent European framework for the deployment of interoperable connected and automated driving, which should be available, if possible, by 2019;
to bring together developments of connected and automated driving in order to reach their full potential to improve road safety, human health, traffic flows, and to reduce the environmental impact of road transport;
to adopt a “learning by experience” approach, including, where possible, cross-border cooperation, sharing and expanding knowledge on connected and automated driving and to develop practical guidelines to ensure interoperability of systems and services;
to support further innovation in connected and automated vehicle technologies to strengthen the global market position of European industry; and
to ensure data protection and privacy.
The document also sets out actions by members states, the European Commission, and industry.
An important priority for member states is ensuring ensure that the Vienna and Geneva Conventions on Road Traffic allow the use of connected and automated vehicles on public roads, and to consider a revision of vehicle and traffic safety regulations within this context.
Further, member states should identify and, where possible, remove legal barriers to the testing and deployment of connected and automated vehicles, based on a learning-by-experience approach.
Member states will also need to support large-scale cross-border testing of connected and automated driving technologies, based on a common European approach.
For its part, the EC needs to develop a shared European strategy on connected and automated driving, based upon the shared objectives of the Declaration, as well as through strengthening the links between existing platforms such as the C-ITS Platform, Gear 2030 and the Round Table on Connected and Automated Driving.
Further, the document urges the EC to consider continuing the C-ITS platform for the deployment of interoperable C-ITS in the EU and to widen its scope to include infrastructure related aspects, traffic management and road safety for connected and automated driving. The EU regulatory framework will need to be adapted to support the development and use of automated and connected driving, respecting the principle of subsidiarity.
The EC is also to develop a coordinated approach towards research and innovation activities in the field of connected and automated driving, within the Energy Union Research, Innovation and Competitiveness Strategy and its Strategic Transport Research and Innovation Agenda, bringing together the work of the EU and of Member States.
Industry participants are to participate actively in the development of the European strategy and agenda on connected and automated driving—and, of course, to develop vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communication systems (C-ITS) and continue standardization work to ensure that new services and systems are interoperable at EU level.
The Amsterdam Declaration stresses the importance of interoperability and standardization both at the European and at the international level.
Industry is also urged to investigate which performance and safety requirements should apply to mobile communications networks to facilitate connected and automated driving, in conjunction with short-range communications (ITS – G5) to facilitate hybrid communication.
While in Amsterdam for the informal meeting of the Transport Council at which the Declaration was signed, the European transport ministers allowed themselves to be transported in a partly self-driving car from the National Maritime Museum to the EYE Film Museum.
This demonstration emphasized the Netherlands’ position as a proving ground for self-driving vehicles. Car manufacturers involved are Volvo, Daimler, BMW, Renault, PSA, JLR, Vedecom, TNO/Davi, Tesla and Audi. Other partners are TomTom, the city of Amsterdam, de Dutch Road Transport Agency, Rijkswaterstaat and the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment.
Vehicle technology is developing rapidly. Cars and trucks are equipped with an increasing number of automatic driver assistance features, including automatic parking, brake assist and traffic jam assist. In future generations of smart mobility the vehicle will take over more and more of the driver’s tasks. Vehicles will also increasingly be connected with each other and the infrastructure through the exchange of data. Automatic features and connectivity offer many advantages:
- greater safety;
- reduced CO2 emissions;
- improved flow of traffic;
- a more comfortable and relaxing form of travel;
- more efficient use of infrastructure and fewer traffic jams; and
- more transport options for less mobile groups, such as inhabitants of rural areas, the elderly or people with a handicap.