Global Vehicle Regulations: 2019 Autonomous Vehicles Predictions

Global Vehicle Regulations: 2019 Autonomous Vehicles Predictions


Last year, RegNet Solutions, tracked over 1,800 vehicle regulations and regulatory documents from around the world.  As we prepared to launch our website last May, our discussions with industry contacts made it clear that autonomous vehicle regulatory developments (as well as emissions, and electric vehicles) were a top concern of compliance, homologation, and testing groups.

Despite the constant flow of headlines around the business and testing of autonomous vehicles, the regulatory framework for is very much in its infancy.  And unlike some industries, regulations and customer demand go hand-in-hand to determine the products that go to market.  Here are three things you can expect to happen in 2019.

1) Europe will lead in the development of automated vehicle regulations

Vehicles in Europe are regulated by a type approval process.  Most of the vehicle regulations are developed through a working party structure in the UN’s Transport Division.  Last week, the newly-formed working party charged with regulating autonomous and connected vehicles wrapped up its second session.  The agenda included:

  • Cyber security and data protection
  • Over-the-air software updates
  • Automatically Commanded Steering
  • Complex Electronic control system requirements
  • Advanced Emergency Braking Systems

Compare that with the US, where Federal policy has been published, but specific regulations have not been developed, and the AV START Act failed to pass.  The US Department of Transportation’s A.V. 3.0 policy lists intentions and a helpful list of voluntary technical standards, but has not specifically developed regulations relating to autonomous vehicles.  Given the time involved in rulemaking process, expect little in terms of specific regulation development and continued uncertainty in 2019.


2) China will play a more international role

China will increasingly play a role in the development of international autonomous and automated vehicle regulations.  China has indicated that all new vehicles in its market will have some level of autonomous driving capability by 2020.  Last year, a Chinese delegate to the UN submitted that, “China will actively join the discussion of AD regulations to be formulated by WP.29 and is willing to play a more active role in this process…”.* China has stressed the need for harmonization of technical standards, which is unsurprising given its commercial aspirations to go global.


3) Blurring of authority in the US

Once upon a time, NHSTA –through US Federal Vehicle Safety Standards –regulated the construction of motor vehicles.  The EPA of course regulates emissions, and California has a specific status for historical reasons.

In 2019 though, the situation isn’t quite so clear.  As innovations outpace the rulemaking process, states have filled the gaps with operational regulations for autonomous vehicles.  In Emissions, some 17 state have challenged the Federal government on the SAFE proposal.  California issued its version of GDPR – the European data privacy law – which becomes increasingly important as more and more data is collected on motor vehicles and their drivers.  And the FCC will necessarily become more involved and more intertwined in regulating the industry as over-air-updates and connected vehicle technology advance.


Will 2019 be a year of transition and continued uncertainty, or will we move towards more clarity?  What do you think?

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