New legislation allows for the testing of cars with remote drivers

The Netherlands has moved a step closer to the introduction of self-driving vehicles on public roads. The House of Representatives has received the Experimenteerwet zelfrijdende auto’s (Draft Bill Governing the Experimental Use of Self-Driving Vehicles) from Minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen (Infrastructure & Water Management). Once the bill enters into force, the Minister of Infrastructure & Water Management can issue permits for conducting tests on public roads using remote drivers.

Already, there are cars on the road that have automated functions like cruise control, automatic parking and lane-keeping systems. In The Netherlands it is already possible to test self-driving vehicles on public roads since 2015, but they need a driver to be present somewhere in the vehicle. The new law also allows for the testing of vehicles with a remote driver. This is yet another step towards introducing self-driving vehicles in the Netherlands. At the EU level, it has been agreed that all Member States must be ready to introduce self-driving vehicles on their roads in 2019.

Self-driving vehicles offer many benefits. Smart technologies can improve road safety, for instance.  New cars can already have braking systems that automatically take over if someone suddenly stops ahead of you, and systems that keep the vehicle in your lane, for example if you are distracted and pass the lane line. In the years ahead, the auto-pilot function will be developed further to be able to take full control on the motorway and make your trip easier and more comfortable.

If cars are able to communicate with one another, it can enhance traffic flow. In the logistics sector, truck platooning is already being tested. This involves two or more trucks being connected via Wi-Fi. Because of their connection, they can drive far closer to  each other and save on fuel. The first truck is actively driven, while the other drivers’ tasks are more and more supported or taken care of by their vehicle systems.

Self-driving cars can also be a good source of information. For example, they can scan the road surface and inform the road authority of potholes or icy sections. In the latter case, the road authority can then send out a gritter.

The Netherlands is ambitious and is at the forefront of the countries that prepare legislation to facilitate the introduction of self-driving vehicles. By experimenting, the Netherlands will be well prepared for the future in terms of legislation, as well as introducing and combining new forms of transport into society.