LONDON – Swedish automaker Volvo is betting on the U.S. to be the first nation to widely adopt fully autonomous vehicles thanks to its state-based regulatory system.
It points to the fact just three of the 50 states, California, Michigan and Florida, currently have any regulations pertaining to driverless cars, meaning the rest are free for automakers to test the technology in real-world driving conditions.
Volvo’s Anders Eugensson, director-governmental affairs, tells WardsAuto car companies need these conditions to ensure the technology is robust enough to meet the challenges faced in everyday motoring.
“For example, China is saying that before they allow road testing they have to drive (the vehicles) for six months on test tracks,” he says. “That is useless and adds nothing to their knowledge, because the challenges are nothing.
“Challenge comes when you are exposed to all the risks and you don’t know what they are going to be.”
Volvo is owned by Chinese automaker Zhejiang Geely.
Eugensson also contends most of Europe is hampered by the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic 1968.
“In the convention there is something called Regulation 79, which is a real obstacle at the moment for taking autonomous vehicles on the roads,” Eugensson says. “This really worries us. The regulators are a roadblock because they have trouble keeping up with developments.”
The regulation decrees that “an automatically commanded steering function is allowed only up to 6.2 mph (10 km/h), to cover parking maneuvers, and above that speed a car can only be involved in steering correction, such as lane assist.”