Automated vehicles

Published on Friday 24 June 2022

The recent technological developments make it possible to provide increasingly efficient delegated driving functions for different types of vehicles and different uses: private vehicles, public transport vehicles, freight transport and logistics. These developments, and the knowledge accumulated through experimentation with automated vehicles now make it possible to consider the deployment phase, making it possible to offer increasingly diversified services.

The French strategy for the development of automated road mobility

The French strategy for the development of automated road mobility establishes the framework for public action in France to support the development of automated vehicles, mobility systems and services.

The strategy published on December 15, 2020, aims to make France the preferred location in Europe for the deployment of automated road mobility services. Based on three founding principles - safety, progressiveness, acceptability - the national strategy places technical innovation, the regulatory framework and the demonstration of safety at the center of public actions. It also aims to support innovation and assistance in the territories to promote the deployment of services.

This update of the national strategy follows a first version published on May 14, 2018, which aimed to set up the legislative framework for the deployment of automated road mobility services and which was permitted by the Mobility Orientation Law of December 24, 2019.

Legislative and regulatory framework for the deployment of automated vehicles and transport systems

The Mobility Orientation Law of December 24, 2019 (Law n ° 2019-1428) opened the possibility of adapting the legislation to the case of the circulation of automated vehicles on public roads.

An ordinance on April 14, 2021 and a following decree on June 29, 2021, define the conditions of circulation of the automated vehicle and the associated liability regime. These provisions, explained in the documentation below, allow the circulation in France of automated vehicles, up to so-called automation "level 4" (without a driver on board) for passenger transport services.

This framework was designed to be complementary with the European framework for type approval of vehicles, which is currently being adapted, to cover increasing automation. France is thus the European and G7 leading country in terms of regulatory framework for the deployment of vehicles and services, beyond the experiments.

Legislative and regulatory framework for experimentations

The legislative and regulatory framework for the experimentations, resulting from Art. 37 of the Energy Transition Law of 2015, was supplemented by Ordinance No. 2016-1057 of August 3, 2016 relating to the experimentation of vehicles with delegation of driving on public roads, which authorizes vehicles with partial or total delegation on public roads for testing purposes.

Decree n ° 2018-211 of March 28, 2018 (amended by decree n ° 2020-1495 of December 2, 2020) relating to the experimentation of vehicles with delegation of driving on public roads specifies the general conditions for issuing authorization for the experimentation as well as the conditions relating to its conduct. A more specific decree set the specific experimental conditions, including in particular the list of documents requested as part of the experimentation file.

This regulatory framework was supplemented in April 2019 by Article 125 of the Law for the Growth and Transformation of Businesses (PACTE) which broadens its possibilities.

Safety evaluation and demonstration

One of the main objectives of the national strategy is to ensure a high level of safety during the deployment of these systems. Safety validation is at the core of public action, which must ensure that the national, European and international levels are articulated.

Technical work is underway at the national level to develop the validation framework for these systems and accelerate the production of safety reference documents, primarily for public and shared transport on predefined routes or areas.

The first results of this work led to working documents available below, relating in particular to the concepts of validation, the characterization of risks and traffic routes and the articulation of roles between the human stakeholder and the system.

The link with connectivity of vehicles

Vehicle automation and connectivity are developing in parallel, but also, increasingly, in synergy. France has expertise in the development of connected vehicle use cases, in connection with infrastructure, within the framework of national and European projects, such as SCOOP@F, InterCor, C-Roads and InDiD. In the context of the development of automated road mobility, vehicle connectivity is increasingly considered as a complement to the perception capabilities of on-board sensors (concept of extended vision). This expertise, both technical and organizational, makes it possible to master the challenges of road safety and network management, attached to each specific use case. The knowledge acquired in this field must be properly used and it was the main purpose of a working group that delivered its report in October 2021 to specify the priority connectivity needs for the automation use cases. This document is a technical reference that does not commit any position on the deployment of connectivity by the actors or the Ministry.

To shed light on the debate about the connectivity technologies to be used today and tomorrow (ITS-G5, 4G, LTE-V2X, 5G ...), a working group bringing together car manufacturers, telecommunication operators, road managers, representatives of the authorities and independent experts was formed in May 2018. It issued its conclusions in December 2018, proposing deployment scenarios combining the different technologies according to the networks concerned and the foreseeable deadlines for the deployment of 5G.

Perception and acceptability

Monitoring the acceptability has been retained as one of the axes of the national strategy for the development of automated vehicles, recently revised at the end of 2020. Exchanges between the all stakeholders on this subject are notably punctuated by national seminars on the societal aspects of the automated vehicle, chaired by Mrs Anne-Marie IDRAC, the senior official responsible for the development strategy for autonomous vehicles. In order to provide input for these seminars, the DGITM monitors studies and research, as well as surveys conducted on the subject.

Six seminars dedicated to questions of ethics and acceptability related to the automated vehicle took place respectively on November 9, 2018, March 25, 2019, September 23, 2019, November 19, 2020, June 3, 2021, and more recently on December 16, 2021.

The fifth edition of the acceptability seminar dealt not only with the feelings of users and the evolution of acceptability through studies, surveys, projects and academic work, but also sought to consider a theme that is still little studied in international work: the consideration of the environmental dimension. The treatment of the sustainability of automated road mobility concerns both the perception of users and the impact of the environmental criterion in their modal choice, but also scientific work on the impacts and direct or indirect consequences of the development of automated vehicles on their environment.

While the fifth edition of this seminar highlighted the omnipresence of the environmental theme in the considerations of users, the sixth edition wished to integrate a dimension linked to the training of drivers in the use of these systems. These aspects were studied from two sides: through a perception survey and a literature review, supplemented by the initial results of the "driving and training" working group led by the Direction à la Sécurité Routière (Interior Ministry). The perception survey made it possible, on the one hand, to measure French people's knowledge of driving aids and automated vehicles and thus to understand their evolution.

Generally, the French are increasingly aware and familiar with automated driving assistance systems, but this is less the case with both delegated driving and automated vehicles. Furthermore, the acceptability of automated public transport systems is increasing and driverless public mobility is on the rise. The relocation of the vehicle operator to a remote supervision centre is more widely accepted.

Then, a focus on the driving and training aspects was proposed in order to understand the French people's awareness of these aspects and their needs. On the whole, the majority of them are prepared to spend between thirty minutes and one and a half hours on such training, which they would prefer to be based on real-life situations on a real track or road rather than in a simulator.

Finally, on July 15, 2019, the Prime Minister gave the National Pilot Committee for Digital Ethics (CNPEN) a mission to carry out work on the "autonomous vehicle". This committee published its opinion in May 2021 after having analysed the ethical issues of automated driving vehicles and issues recommendations relating to the ethical provisions for the development of these vehicles.

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