Self-driving vehicles

Vehicles are increasingly equipped with automatic features, such as automatic parking, adaptive cruise control and stop-and-go control systems. These automatic features are rapidly developing further. The Dutch national government aims to take the lead in these developments and prepare the Netherlands for their implementation.

The ambitions of the Netherlands

The Netherlands firmly believes in the potential benefits for significant change in road mobility with the introduction of cooperative ITS systems. Innovations in this field should allow us to improve traffic flows on our roads in terms of safety, efficiency and environmental impact, and can be an important boost to Europe’s competitive strength, jobs opportunities and growth. A coordinated approach at a European level and closer cooperation between governments and stakeholders is required to allow these innovative systems to become available on the market.

The Netherlands paves the way for innovative mobility solutions

Cars will get gradually smarter and in the future, cars will become more and more automated. This innovation will run simultaneously with increasing data-communication between cars on the road and with installations at the roadside. By establishing the Netherlands as a country for testing automated cars and Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS), the minister wants to make the Netherlands a fertile breeding ground for this kind of innovation and facilitate these developments.

(The logo of the Netherlands EU Presidency 2016. Voice-over:)


VOICE-OVER: Since its invention over 130 years ago,
the automobile has undergone a profound transformation.
And recently, this evolution has become a revolution,
with systems that take over more and more tasks from the driver.
And cars are also becoming more connected with their environments.
Bringing the developments of connected driving and automated driving together
is crucial, in order to improve safety, improve traffic flows and reduce emissions.
MINISTER SCHULTZ: I want to show you that there are opportunities for us,
and that we all have to play a role.
VOICE-OVER: But these developments also bring new challenges
for industry and governments.
SCHULTZ: And a joint declaration is the first step
in which the EU member states, the European Commission
and the car manufacturers agree on joint goals.
VOICE-OVER: Joint goals, joint actions and learning by experience.
The Netherlands took the initiative to organise
the European Truck Platooning Challenge,
driving trucks of different brands in columns on public roads
from several European cities to the Netherlands.

(A map of Europe.)

Together with other governments, the truck industry, logistic services
and research institutes, we worked on a common goal
and were faced with a lot of challenges,
like the different legal distances between vehicles and divergent national procedures.
Together, these challenges were overcome,
showing more structural solutions are needed.

(A man points to something on a map.)

And to underline the future is near,
we showed the ministers what is already possible.
MINISTER SCHULTZ: We will all experience what it is like
to be driven around in automated cars on the public road through Amsterdam.
I expect it to be an exciting and memorable event,
and I want to thank you all very much for your support.
VOICE-OVER: With the Declaration of Amsterdam,
Europe has taken an important step to make connected and automated driving
a step closer.

(The logo of the Netherlands EU Presidency 2016. The Dutch coat of arms next to Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment. On-screen text: Scenarios & summits.)

Benefits of self-driving vehicles

Self-driving cars and lorries have significant benefits:

  • Fewer accidents

    90% of traffic accidents can be attributed to human error. This means that self-driving vehicles have a significant potential to reduce the risk of road accidents.
  • Less fuel and lower emissions

    Self-driving and ITS have potential to reduce emissions and improve efficiency. Platooning for instance, which allows trucks to follow one another more closely, reduces the effect of air resistance. This can lead to a 5%-15% reduction in fuel consumption, with a comparable reduction in CO2 emissions.
  • Fewer tailbacks

    Communication between vehicles can have a positive impact on traffic flows. For example, coordination with respect to braking and accelerating will result in fewer unnecessary tailbacks.

Rules and regulations pertaining to self-driving vehicle tests

The Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment (I&M) has opened the public roads to large-scale tests with self-driving passenger cars and trucks. The Dutch cabinet has adopted a bill which in the near future will make it possible to conduct experiments with self-driving vehicles without a driver being physically present in the vehicle. The Experimenteerwet zelfrijdende auto (law governing the experimental use of self-driving vehicles) removes legal impediments. Thus ensuring manufacturers will have more opportunities to conduct tests involving self-driving vehicles.

The law governing the experimental use of self-driving vehicles will enable companies to apply for a permit to conduct tests with driverless-vehicles on public roads, with a human being ready to take command via remote control.

The RDW (Dutch Vehicle Authority) is responsible for the admission of vehicles to the public roads, including self-driving passenger cars and self-driving lorries. The RDW has the option of issuing an exemption for self-driving vehicles. Companies that wish to test self-driving vehicles must first convince and demonstrate that the tests will be conducted in a safe manner. To that end, they need to submit an application for admission.

Learning by doing

Gaining practical experience with these new systems, will allow our government to keep pace with these technological advancements. For example by any necessary adjustment of domestic and international legislation, physical/digital infrastructure and mandatory driving skills.

Test applications

Automated cars are a new technology for which no assessment criteria or implementation legislation is yet available. It is therefore difficult to set standard conditions and requirements at this stage. The applications for testing themselves can also be diverse in nature.

Depending on the type of functionality being tested, the inspection and conditions required for exemptions, will be determined in consultation with the road authorities. It will therefore be done on a case-by-case basis, guaranteeing sufficient safety. Elements for consideration can include the time of day, the location, the type of road, trained drivers, interaction with other road users, weather conditions, possible physical accompaniment, additional insurance requirements, etc.

Furthermore, the Information and Technology Centre for Transport and Infrastructure (CROW) have set up a task force of road management authorities. And traffic safety experts from institutions such as the Institute for Road Safety Research (SWOV) help to evaluate this new form of mobility.

Applying for testing with self-driving vehicles

International OEM's, developers and research institutes can submit an application for admission to the RDW. On this website also more information can be found about the allowance/procedure. The RDW will be pleased to answer any queries you may have in this respect.