UN panel gives green light for faster autonomous driving

UN panel gives green light for faster autonomous driving

The international panel of experts on automated and connected driving of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) has agreed to raise the maximum speed for autonomous driving in certain traffic situations. […]

Computer-controlled cars could soon be traveling at high speed on highways, for example. Lane changes should also be allowed. The international panel of experts on automated and connected driving of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) has agreed to raise the maximum speed for autonomous driving in certain traffic situations from 60 to 130 kilometers per hour, as UNECE reported in Geneva on Thursday. Lane changes should also be allowed.

The proposal has yet to be approved by the UNECE World Forum for Harmonisation of Vehicle Regulations, which will meet from 21 to 24 June. Consent is considered a formality. The rule would then take effect after about six months. More than 50 countries around the world are members of the agreement, including the EU countries and Switzerland. The USA, China and others regulate autonomous driving according to their own standards.

EU wants to implement regulation

“The EU has already indicated in the working group that it wants to implement the new provision,” François Guichard, secretary of the expert panel, told the DPA news agency. It is possible that consumers will be able to drive such cars in one to two years.

In Germany, Mercedes-Benz is the first manufacturer to launch a car that can drive autonomously at times up to a speed of 60 kilometers per hour – and is also responsible for this time instead of the driver.

According to the current classification, this is considered level 3 in autonomous driving, while driving assistants, in which the person is still responsible at the wheel, still fall under level 2. Mercedes plans to deliver the first ordered vehicles with the “Drive Pilot” system in the summer. Honda is also on the market in Japan with such a car.

Road traffic laws must allow operation

An adaptation of the UN rules would basically mean that a level 3 system for speeds of more than 60 kilometers per hour may be offered internationally, as a Mercedes spokesman explained. However, the national road traffic laws would also have to allow the operation of such a system. Mercedes had designed the system architecture in such a way that the speed ranges could be gradually expanded.

In Germany, automated driving has so far been limited to certain traffic situations on the motorway, for example in traffic jams. In critical situations such as tunnels or the risk of black ice, which cars automatically detect through cameras and sensors, drivers would be alerted and autonomous driving suspended.

In the USA, however, some states such as California and Arizona also allow the operation of autonomous vehicles on the road – now not only as a test, but also with some restrictions as commercial robotaxi services.

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