Schultz advocates large-scale testing of self-driving cars on Dutch roads

Minister Schultz van Haegen (Infrastructure and the Environment) wants to make it possible to perform large-scale testing of self-driving on Dutch roads. In this way, our country can play a leading role internationally regarding this driving innovation.

Minister Schultz van Haegen: “The age of self-driving cars has arrived. Developments in this field will change the relationship between driver and vehicle more in the next twenty years than anything in the past one hundred years did. I want us as the Netherlands not only to be ready, but also to be at the vanguard of this innovative development internationally. Self-driving cars will make a positive contribution to the flow of traffic and to the safety of our busy road network. Moreover, self-driving cars are more economical which is good for us as well as the environment.”

Before self-driving cars are ready for safe use on a large scale, all the automatic functions must be tested one by one in practice. This will enable the new technology to be closely examined and requirements to be set where necessary. One of the benefits of testing on public roads is that other road users can get used to self-driving cars.

Experts worldwide agree that over the course of time, vehicles will take over the task of driving from the driver. It is already possible and permissible for some cars to park automatically. The possibilities for more far-reaching applications whereby the driver allows the vehicle to take over driving completely are still limited within existing legislation.
To make testing on public roads legally possible, existing regulations must be amended. Minister Schultz wants to present a proposal to this end to the House of Representatives early in  2015. After the summer she will announce the conditions under which the testing can take place together with the test locations.

In addition, at the international level, the Minister wants to take the initiative in amending the regulations to enable the large-scale introduction of cars that can drive themselves and communicate with other cars. The Minister announced a study into the issues involving liability, driving skills requirements, data traffic and the possible impact on the infrastructure. Moreover, she wants to build an international network for the further development of self-driving cars together with the Dutch automotive sector, research institutes, and car and truck manufacturers.

A TNO consortium that includes DAF, the Port of Rotterdam and  Transport & Logistiek Nederland has already submitted the first application for a test. The consortium wants to test autonomous lorries that drive in convoys. The aim of the consortium is, within five years, to bring technology onto the market that logistics companies with such lorries can use to drive on public roads.