Imagine a world where traffic accidents, congestion and environmental pollution are a thing of the past. Europe’s CCAM partnership aims to deploy autonomous vehicles to achieve safer roads, reduced environmental impacts, and inclusiveness. Initiated on June 23, 2021, this initiative fosters the harmonization of European R&I ( research and innovation) efforts, while raising awareness and building trust by implementing innovative CCAM technologies in our daily lives. This article aims to define the concept of autonomous vehicles and their legal framework while shedding light on the European actions and initiatives for autonomous mobility.
Autonomous Vehicles: A Broad Concept
The notion of autonomous vehicles refers to the use of aerial, maritime and terrestrial autonomous navigating systems, for industrial, agricultural, transport and security purposes. Especially the use of autonomous systems for terrestrial transport of people and goods, and their potential benefits to the environment and road safety, are now significant economic and political driving factors for the deployment of autonomous vehicles. Also known as “Vision Zero”, this ambition initiates the development of autonomous vehicles and leads to their ubiquity on the global market today. Despite their undeniable potential, current economic and infrastructural challenges are casting doubt on whether self-driving cars are still on track to become a reality on our roads. Today, projects such as the CCAM partnership provide an objective assessment of the readiness for deployment.
The legal framework for autonomous vehicles in Europe
Autonomous vehicles already exist and level 3 automated driving is now possible under certain conditions in France and Germany. However, in both countries, the driver must remain capable to take control of the vehicle at any time.
While international and European regulatory frameworks already allow for cross-border circulation of autonomous vehicles, the lack of specific provisions in some countries like Luxembourg and the diversity between the provisions of Member states within the European Union create significant legal uncertainty for crossborder drives.
At this stage, fully autonomous cars cannot be found on French or European roads. Current experiments with fully autonomous shuttles on predefined and low-speed routes demonstrate that the current technology and infrastructure still require more innovation in order to enable a safe and effective deployment of autonomous vehicles.
CCAM Association – gathering stakeholders for a sustainable solution
Established in 2021, this non-profit organization represents the private sector, with over 180 innovation stakeholders from various sectors including industry, research, services, public and local authorities and associations. Their goal is to accelerate the development and real-life deployment of new technologies in the connected, cooperative, and automated mobility field, while :
- Assuring road safety and efficiency
- Assuring Inclusiveness
- Answering climate change challenges
- Making Europe the center of CCAM technologies
The CCAM project proposes several initatives. It was launched under the Horizon Europe Framework, which is a European Union research and innovation funding program designed to support the development and implementation of research and innovation projects that address societal challenges, and promote economic growth and competitiveness in Europe.
For example, the Move 2CCAM project focuses on social aspects and needs of users, while AI4Ccam deals with key enabling technologies and the Ultimo project permits the deployment and testing of automated vehicles. Coordination among stakeholders through the CCAM partnership is therefore a crucial aspect for innovation uptake and serves to prioritize safety and resilience.
The actions of CCAM partnership
The CCAM Partnership forwards necessary R&I actions to advance towards deployment readiness while aligning perspectives from road users, public policy makers, road operators and the industry. Organized in 7 interlinked clusters, this partnership aims to form a comprehensive framework in order to assess the impacts and realize the partnership objectives by primarily focusing on user needs, societal aspects of mobility and the development of new technologies.
- Cluster 1 : focuses on implementing the results of other clusters through large-scale demonstrations.
- Cluster 2 : aims to develop safe and reliable vehicle technologies through technical research and innovation.
- Cluster 3 : provides procedures and tools for validating CCAM systems, in terms of technology itself and human factors handling the technology.
- Cluster 4 : advances physical and digital infrastructure to support CCAM vehicles and improve connectivity and cooperation between actors, enhancing the integration of CCAM vehicles in the overall transport system.
- Cluster 5 : develops key enabling technologies like AI and cybersecurity features to support the entire mobility system.
- Cluster 6 : addresses societal aspects and user needs.
- Cluster 7 : coordinates all stakeholders and activities for knowledge exchange.
This partnership aims to enhance safer and more reliable vehicle technologies through advanced safety systems and digital infrastructure support in order to improve transport systems in Europe.
Challenges and Opportunities in the Deployment of Autonomous Vehicles in Europe
Despite facing obstacles such as decreased consumer spending, a struggling automobile market, and infrastructural limitations hindering the deployment of autonomous vehicles, the surging interest of both private and public actors, alongside the European Union, underscore the paramount importance of autonomous vehicles in the political and social spheres. However, we must always prioritize safety over speed when implementing autonomous vehicles, aligning with the visionary “Vision Zero” approach.
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E.F.D. (Esther) Engelhard et R.W. (Roeland) de Bruin « Damage caused by autonomous vehicles » édition Eleven International Publishing