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UN paves way for mass use of driverless cars

ImageFile: Uber Driverless Car
PHOTO: Uber's driverless cars have been trained for two years to navigate Pittsburgh. (AFP: Angelo Merendino)

A resolution to ensure the safe use of automated vehicles has been passed at the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Global Forum on Road Traffic Safety in Geneva.

The UNECE, in a statement, said that automated vehicles had the potential to create safer, more efficient and environmentally friendly transport.

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The UN Commission said these could reshape entire sectors of the economy and improve the lives of millions of people, notably those unable to drive or with limited access to mobility.

However, there are still many questions relating to areas such as road safety standards, traffic rules, insurance regimes, cyber security and data protection.

These questions, UNECE said, must still be addressed before the mass introduction of driver-less cars to the market.

The resolution offered recommendations to ensure the safe interaction between automated vehicles, and road users, and stressed the key role that people needed to play, whether as responsible drivers, occupants or on the road in general.

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These included making road safety a priority, safely interacting with the surrounding traffic environment and safely tolerating user error.

The resolution also recommended that the high-tech cars should be able to communicate with their users and other road users, in a clear, effective and consistent way, react to unforeseen situations, and enable their deactivation in a safe manner.

“With this resolution, we are paving the way for the safe mobility of the future, for the benefit of all road users” said UNECE official Luciana Iorio.

In September, a UNECE automated/autonomous and connected vehicles working group met for the first time in Geneva, to begin addressing issues such as technical requirements, cyber security and software updates, and innovative testing methods.


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