Autonomous vehicles are still in their infancy; however, a UN agency has said its rules for fully autonomous vehicles could be ready for use by 2026. The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) is leading the effort to develop regulatory frameworks for fully autonomous vehicles. The initiative is being carried out through the World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations (WP.29), which involves collaboration among various international stakeholders, including from China, the EU, Japan, and the US.

UN to introduce regulations on Autonomous Driving

What the rules will focus on

The framework focuses on ensuring safety and social acceptance of autonomous technologies by addressing several key issues such as system safety, cybersecurity, human-machine interface, object detection, and data storage.

Autonomous driving technology is separated into five levels of autonomy

  • Level 1 – basic driver assistance like adaptive cruise control
  • Level 2 – partial automation where the vehicle can control both steering and acceleration but requires constant driver supervision
  • Level 3 – conditional automation, allows the vehicle to handle most driving tasks with the driver ready to take over if needed
  • Level 4 – high automation, enables the car to operate independently in specific conditions without human intervention
  • Level 5 – full automation, means the vehicle can perform all driving tasks under any conditions without any driver input

The state of the autonomous driving EV market

Level 1 and 2 automation is present in most modern-day vehicles, whilst Level 3 remains rare. Level 4 and 5 are far more costly and still in development stages.

Multiple players are making advancements into the autonomous driving industry. Tesla currently offers Level 3 software, FSD Beta, through a subscription model however it has had poor uptake. The company is aiming to reach Level 5 capabilities by December 2025. Elsewhere, BMW is progressing with its autonomous driving technologies, partnering with Intel and Mobileye to develop Level 3 and Level 4 systems.

Waymo, a subsidiary of Alphabet, has expanded its Level 4 autonomous taxi services, now offering rides in multiple cities in the US. Similarly, Chinese ride-hailing giant DiDi operates a Level 4 fleet across multiple cities in China and has established a JV with GAC Aion to mass produce Level 4 autonomous vehicles. As well as this, Baidu’s Apollo project also has a driverless fleet spread throughout China.  

Other notable players include Aurora (backed by Uber), Motional (backed by Hyundai), Momenta and iMotion.

Rho’s evaluation, automation – the next step for the EV market

The long-term outcome of  autonomous driving still remains uncertain, however there are a wide range of practical applications for autonomous driving technology, from use in passenger cars and taxis to long distance trucking or last mile solutions.

Regionally China is leading the way with the most advanced autonomous ecosystem, followed by the US, with operations in Europe remaining very limited. As vehicle sales become increasingly electrified, most companies selling electric vehicles will be researching or considering autonomous technology to ensure they remain competitive. The framework set out by the UN will be key in enabling the uptake of autonomous driving.

More Information

For more information on how our research can support you, get in touch.

Image credit: Adobe Stock

For full access to our news and insights, log in to our Membership Platform

If you’re not yet a member and would like a trial, fill in the form below.

Rho Motion Membership - Trial