Connected and automated mobility (Communication)

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EESC opinion: Connected and automated mobility (Communication)

Key points

  • The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) welcomes the Communication and convinced about the benefits of automated mobility for our society as it will provide new services for the mobility of people, with more possibilities for the shared economy, potential for optimisation of traffic with environmental advantages, and mobility for those who cannot drive themselves.
  • The European Union (EU) automotive industry, with its expertise in developing vehicle technologies, is well-positioned to seize these opportunities, provided, however, that the EU defines standards to enable operation across borders and interoperability between different car brands.
  • A key feature of automatic or semi-automatic driving is that it could significantly improve the active safety of ground vehicles and might reduce fatalities significantly, or even eliminate them entirely. However, the EESC recommends that all pilot projects and test procedures with autonomous driving be performed under the highest safety standards possible.
  • The EESC also believes that driverless cars (level 5) will only be accepted when they provide the same safety as other transport systems for passengers. The EESC acknowledges that semi-automatic vehicles (level 1-4) with a number of assistance systems can already reduce fatalities. However, it notes two problematic areas which may be a hurdle for public acceptance: a) additional costs and b) the growing complexity of driving a car.
  • Furthermore, the usual training for getting a driver's licence does not cover the most modern technology of assistance systems. Therefore, the EESC believes that the automotive industry, together with municipalities, must as a matter of urgency offer training courses and training areas for private and professional drivers. Training in semi-automatic driving requiring new skills and responsibilities will be key to the development of a modern profile for professional drivers and to responding to the growing demand in transport.
  • The EESC recognises the potential for the eventual large-scale loss of jobs if full automation (level 5) does become successfully introduced in the future. Therefore the Committee urges the social partners to jointly plan the future developments and eventually negotiate new collective bargaining agreements on the introduction of automation in road transport.
  • The EESC also underlines that the product liability directive should be reformed so that it covers movable products and services, as well as products with embedded software. Moreover, in a more complex digital environment the burden of proof in case of product failures is also a matter of concern. The Committee urges the Commission in particular to anticipate the changes in the insurance directive related to driverless motor vehicles and to guarantee the compensation of accident victims. Further, the EESC emphasises that any new regulation on data access for vehicles must follow the safety first principle and welcomes the approach of the Commission in giving priority to regulating the protection of vehicles against cyber-attacks, ensuring secure and trustworthy communication between vehicles and infrastructure and providing a sound data protection level.
  • Finally, the Committee is ready to participate in the anticipated assessment by the Commission of the socio-economic and environmental impacts of driverless mobility and the EU forum to address specific ethical issues.