The Netherlands as a proving ground for mobility

The Netherlands held the EU Presidency from 1 January to 30 June 2016. This was a good opportunity to stimulate further EU collaboration on transport innovations. The Netherlands aims to be an important proving ground for self-driving vehicles, now and in the future.

Harmonised regulations in all EU member states

Vehicles and services are always developed for a larger EU market. Transport systems, too, should not be limited by national borders.

The government wants as many transport laws, rules and standards as possible to be harmonised throughout the EU. This will help make logistics in the region more efficient. If, in the future, automated trucks could travel in platoons throughout Europe, they would use 5% to 15% less fuel. The parties involved in enabling this transformation include the European Commission, EU member states and European vehicle manufacturers.

The Netherlands is the ideal testing ground

The Netherlands is an ideal location for testing self-driving vehicles and customised route information. The Netherlands has the following benefits as a proving ground:

  • Our legislation already provides scope for testing self-driving vehicles on public roads. And vehicle manufacturers are pleased to have such opportunities;
  • Various testing facilities are also available, such as the Road Transport Agency (RDW) test track, an innovation centre and cameras for monitoring driving behaviour;
  • The Netherlands has a dense, well maintained and interconnected road network;
  • Knowledge institutions and companies have a lot of expertise in the area of transport technology;
  • Dutch people accept self-driving vehicles better than people in other EU countries.
  • The government supports all innovative developments in the area of transport and wants to be at the forefront of this internationally. Partnerships in this field between public authorities, companies and knowledge institutions have already proven successful. The Optimising Use programme contains many examples of measures that were the result of parties working together to find innovative solutions.

Dutch businesses can benefit from transport developments. Companies that stay at the forefront of these developments have an edge over their global competitors. This consolidates the Netherlands’ leading international position in the field of transport.

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 lorries. With effect from July 2015, the Dutch rules and regulations have been amended to allow large-scale road tests. In collaboration with Rijkswaterstaat (the Road Authority) and the RDW (Dutch Vehicle Authority), the Ministry of I&M have been exploring safe ways to conduct tests on the public roads. The RDW is responsible for the admission of vehicles to the public roads, including self-driving passenger cars and self-driving lorries.

Under the amended legislation, the RDW has the option of issuing an exemption for self-driving vehicles. Companies that wish to test self-driving vehicles must first demonstrate that the tests will be conducted in a safe manner. To that end, they need to submit an application for admission.