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02 July 2015

Regulators risk delaying public transport advantages of driverless cars

Children born today may never need to get a driving licence to use a car, according to an OECD report - but they could be deprived from some potential advantages by restrictive regulation.

By Neasa MacErlean

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The report, 'Automated and Autonomous Driving - Regulation under uncertainty', suggests that most countries are focusing on introducing rules to allow the ‘testing, licensing and operation of autonomous technologies and vehicles’. But this could mean that potential opportunities are in danger of being overlooked by policy-makers. The report points to the possibility of creating bus and taxi services in particular geographical locations and suggests that regulation needs to be set up to develop these zones. The report adds: ‘We could not find evidence of anticipatory regulatory action addressing the potential use cases that could result from large-scale deployment of highly autonomous vehicles, such as the provision of quasi-public transport or taxi-like operations.’

Last generation of drivers

The authors of the report expect dramatic change to happen within generations - saying that today’s children could be the last generation that actually learns to drive for themselves. The report was produced by the International Transport Forum at the OECD.

Legal challenges

Local planners might be caught unaware, suggests the report, by legal challenges pushing the use of self-driving vehicles. It gives the example of ‘a driver licensing agency [which] receives an application from a disabled person who cannot legally drive under existing rules but who asserts the right to operate an automated vehicle under an accommodations law’.

Robotics law

Driverless cars will be a main theme of Robotics Law Journal, a new title being published this month. Sources: International Transport Forum of the OECD and Robotics Law Journal

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