Europe is having a first as France makes preparations for the arrival of autonomous vehicles on its roads. For Europe, this will be a first for its road code and the code of transport. France is leading the way by establishing the regulatory framework for the inevitable: autonomous driving.
Before we dive into the press release, please note that it’s originally in French and Google automatically translated the document.
France’s Ministry of Interior shared a press release that explained that the nation published a decree adopting the provisions of the Highway Code and the Transport Code to allow for autonomous vehicles. The press release described these vehicles as “fitted with delegated control systems” and noted that, once approved, the transport systems will be on automated roads on predefined routes or zones starting in September of 2022.
The decree also stated that the driver of the automated vehicle will be released from criminal liability as long as the automated driving system operates in accordance with the conditions of use. The decree also defined the terms of interaction between the driver and the automated driving system along with emergency maneuvers. There may be cases where the system will have to perform emergency maneuvers automatically.
The press release noted that the very first passenger cars that are equipped with automated driving systems will soon arrive in France and Europe. In describing these cars, the document called them cars whose dynamic control will be totally delegated to an automated driving system only when certain conditions are met. Some of these vehicles could be approved for driving on France’s public roads before the end of this year.
The Ministry of Interior pointed out that automated driving systems are expected to rapidly evolve and multiply and that its regulatory framework national law established by the decree will enable France to support these developments.
France’s Minister Delegate of Transport, Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, spoke about this new step toward mobility of the future. “With this decree, we are taking another step towards the mobility of the future. France stands out as one of the first countries to adapt its law to autonomous vehicles. We are now giving to our manufacturers and to our transport operators the visibility necessary to develop them — and in the future, to make them roll.”
I think this is a great step for France and Europe and that the U.S. should take notes. Autonomous driving is definitely the future. Tesla, Waymo, and a few others are working toward these goals. Governments — whether state, local, or other — should start preparing for these vehicles, especially in the nations where the companies developing them are headquartered as well as nations where the first target markets for these vehicles are.