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Driverless transport needs a global unified code

Claude-Étienne Armingaud of K&L Gates says regulators need to adopt a unified approach to policy-making for autonomous vehicles to become a viable alternative to conventional transportation systems

Claude-Étienne Armingaud, partner at K&L Gates.
Claude-Étienne Armingaud, partner at K&L Gates.

Autonomous transportation systems may no longer be the stuff of science fiction, but there’s still a large amount of work, regulation-wise, that needs to be done before they can replace conventional vehicles on the road.

“A start has been made towards laying the foundation of a regulatory framework in many countries around the world, but there are still considerable challenges that must be overcome by lawmakers and regulators alike in developing a comprehensive and unified approach to govern what we anticipate will be a strong sector in the near future,” said Claude-Étienne Armingaud, a Paris-based partner at K&L Gates, who spoke via video link during a press conference held on 7 March, in Dubai.

Giving an example of such a challenge, Armingaud cited the 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic, a treaty agreed upon by 74 contracting members and which the UAE adopted in 2007. The treaty originally stipulated that every moving vehicle, to be allowed on the road, must be operated by a driver who has full control of the vehicle at all times.

In 2016, the treaty was amended to allow autonomous transportation systems, on the condition that the system complies with UN requirements or that the driver is able to deactivate it.

Armingaud pointed out that though the treaty only covers 74 countries, with big markets like China, the US and the UK noticeably absent, there have been various efforts at regional levels to develop autonomous automotive regulation. He stressed, however, that regional efforts will not do in the long term.

“The global nature of the automotive industry will require a uniform framework to ensure that car manufacturers may seamlessly develop their offering of products and services, and that automated car users and insurers may rely on a uniform liability and responsibility regime,” he said.


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