Shenzhen allows self-driving vehicles to operate on certain roads

Shenzhen wants to be at the forefront of new technologies. As Chinese tech companies and other start-ups ramp up experiments with self-driving vehicles, Shenzhen has passed new regulations set to come into effect on August 1. Fully autonomous vehicles, without a driver at the wheel, will be able to travel on certain specifically designated roads. Some autonomous vehicles no longer even need to have a pedal or steering wheel, reports the China Daily.

Vehicles without pedals or steering wheel

With this new regulation for smart and connected vehicles, Shenzhen grants self-driving vehicles a legal “identity card”. A key step to accelerate the marketing of these vehicles. But more regulation and more trials are needed, experts say, before this pilot can be expanded.

This regulation classifies autonomous vehicles into three types: conditionally autonomous driving, highly autonomous driving and fully autonomous driving. The two vehicles entering the first two classifications must have equipment for human driving. But fully autonomous vehicles don’t need to have pedals and a steering wheel.

In Beijing, driverless robot taxis can already circulate on the roads, but the authorizations are transmitted for each vehicle, it is not an official general rule as is now the case in Shenzhen.

Who is responsible in the event of an accident?

This new regulation also clarifies the liability rules applicable in the event of an accident involving an autonomous vehicle. For self-driving vehicles with a driver, the driver is responsible for accidents and compensation. For fully autonomous driverless vehicles, the owner or user of the vehicle is held responsible for accidents and compensation. But in the context of a traffic accident, if the damage is caused by the defects of a vehicle, the driver, owner or user of the vehicle, after paying the invoice, can claim compensation from the manufacturer or to the car seller.

In France, the driver can free himself from criminal liability when an advanced driving assistance system (ADAS) operates under normal conditions of use and has been approved. And autonomous vehicles will be able to travel in predefined areas from September 2022.

In the United States, it is no longer necessary to equip autonomous vehicles with a driver’s seat, pedals or steering wheel, or to request an exception from the NHTSA to circulate them. But they must offer the same levels of protection as human-driven vehicles. All countries are groping about regulatory changes in the face of the arrival of this new technology.

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