European member states give impetus to large-scale automated transportation tests

The Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Spain, Austria and 21 other EU countries will set up collective large-scale tests involving automated vehicles. This has been agreed during a meeting on Connected and Autonomous Vehicles held in Amsterdam on the initiative of Minister Schultz van Haegen (Infrastructure and the Environment). Issues to be addressed in the tests include truck platooning and vehicles driving on auto pilot through data communication with one another.

In urban and sparsely populated areas, the countries will collaborate on tests with automated mini buses and valet parking. In addition, the countries are planning to work on mutual recognition of exemptions for tests on public roads, in order to facilitate manufacturers and to foster innovations.

The Amsterdam meeting was a follow-up to the agreements made by the member states last year, during the Dutch EU presidency, regarding the introduction of automated vehicles. In the Declaration of Amsterdam, set down in 2016, the member states expressed their intention to engage in close collaboration in order to enable a swift introduction of self-driving vehicles.

During the follow-up meeting, representatives of the European Commission, the automotive industry, and telecom companies, Ministers and officials from various member states have expressed the view that it must become easier for manufacturers to field-test new technologies on public roads in multiple countries. Currently, each country has its own exemption procedure that manufacturers need to go through before field-testing an autonomous vehicle on a public road.
In addition, the countries have agreed to focus on sound data exchange between vehicles, and between vehicles, traffic centres, and the roadside, for example, traffic lights. Vehicles communicating with one another, and with road infrastructure and traffic centres would generate a wealth of data on the current situation on the roads. For example, a vehicle may indicate any defects in the road surface, slippery sections, or incidents on the motorway suddenly requiring vehicles to brake, thus causing tailbacks. Other traffic can benefit from such information.

In Amsterdam, the member states have emphasised the importance of brand-independent communication, so that data can be exchanged between all vehicles without any problem. The European automotive industry has pledged to ensure that by 2019, new vehicles will be able to communicate with one another; from then on, consequently, data exchange between vehicles and traffic centres will become feasible in actual practice.