The implementation of vehicle automation now appears to be a clear trend. Whilst the projected time scales, technology options and their usage vary, it is necessary for policy makers to respond to this development.
There are many benefits of vehicle automation: Improved road safety, increased mobility, enhanced accessibility for the elderly and people with disabilities, increased network capacity, and an overall decrease in cost. Moreover, more efficient fuel usage could be envisaged and decreased emissions – especially for long haul transport. Also, shared mobility services supported by vehicle automation could benefit society as a whole.
However, autonomous driving also begs for a more fundamental discussion of mobility versus congestion. Increased mobility will invariably lead to new and increased strain on the current transport network. Addressing this paradigm shift and reaping the benefits of autonomous driving thus requires new technological as well as regulatory approaches. The technology-led debate often focuses on the wider benefits of automation without clarifying short and long-term benefits and requirements.
Timely regulatory approaches are needed in order to address the continuous technological development accordingly. With some major automobile companies expect fully autonomous cars by 2020, policy makers are thus under increasing pressure to find a balance between innovation and safety while also ensuring environmental performance, promoting interoperability across borders, and meeting consumer needs,
The objective of this Ministers’ Roundtable is for ministers and sector leaders to assess technological developments in vehicle automation and to discuss transport authorities’ readiness to address these technologies in their oversight functions.
Questions for discussion include:
Minister for Transport and Building and Housing, Denmark
Vice-Minister for International Affairs, Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT)
Moderator, Editor-at-Large for Reuters Television