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Sweden proposes a very progressive legislation on self-driving vehicle trials

The proposal was presented to the Minister for Infrastructure, Anna Johansson, on March 31 and is expected to be passed into a law on May 1 2017. In a second phase of the investigation, due in Nov '17, a similar proposal will be presented for full commercialization of self-driving vehicles.

Read the full proposal (in Swedish)

Executive summary, by the Investigator: 

My task has been to submit proposals for the regulation of trials using self-driving vehicles on roads. The following is a summary of my assessments and proposals.

International conventions

It is my view that the international road traffic conventions do not prevent trials from being performed using self-driving vehicles on roads. I base this assessment largely on the fact that the conventions are intended to facilitate international road traffic and to improve road safety. In my opinion international road traffic will not be affected by trials using self-driving vehicles. However, experience from running the trials may be important in identifying the need for changes in the conventions in order to facilitate international road traffic, among other things. Nor does EU law prevent trials using self-driving vehicles from being performed.

Trial permits

It should be possible to carry out trials using self-driving vehicles at all levels of automation. In order to ensure that the trials can be carried out in an orderly manner, I suggest that the activity should be governed by a specific act. The test organisation must comply with specific requirements in order to be granted a permit to perform trials.

The Swedish Transport Agency shall be responsible for authorising permits to carry out trials. The Swedish Transport Agency’s decisions on permits may be combined with a number of conditions. A permit to perform trials may cover a specific vehicle or a specific type of vehicle and may be limited in time and limited to a geographical area or to a specific stretch of road. The Swedish Transport Agency shall also be able to impose requirements for the marking of vehicles if there are special reasons for this. It shall be possible to appeal against the Swedish Transport Agency’s decisions.

In its application to the Swedish Transport Agency the test organisation shall indicate how road safety will be ensured when the trials are taking place. This may, for example, include reports on tests performed in simulators or on test tracks with the results from these. In addition, the test organisation should explain how it has resolved issues relating to cybersecurity and how it will ensure that those affected receive the information required for the trial to be carried out securely.

The collection and storage of data during trials shall be performed in such a way as to ensure consistency with the applicable national and international regulations. The test organisation shall set out how the right to privacy and the right to the protection of personal data will be maintained, and how the requirements for security and protection against unauthorised access will be ensured.

Anyone who has been granted a trial permit is responsible for submitting, on request, to the Swedish Police or to the Swedish Prosecution Authority the data available from the vehicle’s sensors that is needed to investigate accidents involving the vehicle. In addition, anyone who has been granted a permit shall continuously report any accidents during the trials and submit an annual report on the performance of the trials to the Swedish Transport Agency.

Supervision

In order to ensure compliance with the regulatory framework for trialling self-driving vehicles on roads, the Swedish Transport Agency shall supervise the performance of the trials. In the event of shortcomings, the Swedish Transport Agency can require the test organisation to take certain measures. The Swedish Transport Agency also has the option to revoke the permit.

The issue of liability

The trials shall be capable of including tests in which the automated driving system handles all driving functions including safety- critical functions. In such tests the automated driving system is to be regarded as the vehicle driver. When the vehicle is in self-driving mode, criminal liability shall be borne by whoever applied for the permit. The test organisation is responsible for ensuring that the vehicle can be operated safely. A regulation on criminal liability shall be incorporated in the new trial legislation.

A highly automated vehicle can also be driven by a physical driver on certain routes. On those occasions on which the vehicle is driven manually it is the physical driver who bears the criminal liability, as is the case with vehicles at lower levels of automation.

Compensation for traffic accidents

It is my assessment that the current regulatory framework relating to compensation for traffic accidents is such that it can be applied to all levels of self-driving vehicles. No constitutional amendment is therefore required. Data from the vehicle can facilitate the investigation of traffic accidents. Whoever has been granted a permit for trials is responsible, on request, for submitting to the policyholder of the self-driving vehicle the information that is available from the vehicle’s sensors and that is needed to investigate the insurance case. Insurance companies can obtain access to data through a civil law agreement with the insured.

Camera surveillance

New regulations on camera surveillance need to be incorporated into the trial legislation. Self-driving vehicles will have cameras on the outside of the vehicle. Visual data obtained from the outside of the vehicle shall be permanently and irrevocably anonymised before storage. Against this background I consider that the camera surveillance that takes place in trials of self-driving vehicles, in places to which the public has access, can be exempted from the permit and disclosure requirements. The interception of communications or audio recording must not be carried out using microphones outside the vehicle.

Camera surveillance of a place to which the public does not have access shall be exempted from the requirement for consent in relation to people who are outside the vehicle. This may, for example, cover the performance of a trial in a car park where only self-driving vehicles may park. Consent shall be required in respect of surveillance which takes place inside a vehicle.

The Swedish Data Protection Authority shall supervise the camera surveillance carried out by self-driving vehicles.

Infrastructure

I do not consider that it is possible to lay down infrastructure requirements in the trial legislation in connection with different trials. Depending on the technology a test organisation chooses to use for the self-driving vehicle, various adaptations to the infrastructure may be required. My starting point is that the test organisation will conduct a dialogue with the road authority concerning suitable routes for the performance of tests and the need for adaptations.

Work environment legislation

Trials using vehicles have been performed for a long time in Sweden. It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that the driver has the knowledge and skills required to carry out the trials and that the work environment is safe. I do not consider that any amendments need to be made to the work environment legislation in order to perform trials using self-driving vehicles at all levels of automation.

Entry into force

In view of the time that can be estimated for the consultation process, preparation in the Government Offices of Sweden and parliamentary procedures, it should be possible for the proposed laws and legal amendments to enter into force on 1 May 2017.