Testing of automated vehicles on public roads
In Austria, the testing of automated vehicles is allowed, as long as certain requirements are fulfilled. These requirements are defined in the Automated Driving Regulation (AutomatFahrV). Further instructions are specified in the Code of Practice. With the release of the Austrian edict on automated driving in 2016, Austria has taken a new approach throughout Europe and focused testing on particularly important use cases. The Automated Driving Regulation (AutomatFahrV) currently permits the following applications:
- Automated minibus
- Automated valet parking
- Automated vehicle for transport of passenger
- Automated vehicle for the transport of goods
- Automated working machine
- Autonomous military vehicle
- Motorway pilot with automated lane change
- Motorway pilot with automated driving on ramps and exits
Once all requirements of the AutomatFahrV are met, the BMK issues a certificate that permits testing on public roads. Compliance with the Code of Practice is another requirement that all test organisations should comply with in order to enable safe testing.
Since 2016, numerous organisations and research institutions have been testing automated vehicles in Austria. These test activities are regularly submitted to the BMK in form of a semi-annual interim report as well as a final report after expiry of the certificate for the purpose of securing experience and building up knowledge.
Automated Driving Regulation
Back on August, 2016, a general legal framework to allow experimentation with automated vehicles in real traffic conditions was adopted in Austria. This was possible due the 33 Amendment to the Motor Vehicle Act. Based on this amendment, the BMK issued the “Automated Driving Regulation (AutomatFahrV)”, which specifies the conditions under which tests of automated vehicles on public roads can take place.
The first amendment to the Automated Driving Regulation (AutomatFahrV) of the BMK came into force in March 2019. A legal basis was created within the scope of the amendment to ensure that permitted driver assistance systems, specifically the parking aid and the motorway assistant, can be used on roads carrying public traffic in Austria without the driver always having to have a hand on the steering wheel.
Within the scope of AutomatFahrV, a differentiation must now be made between test runs for research institutes and vehicle manufacturers on the one hand and the regular use of driver assistance systems that are already permitted and are in series production (parking aid and motorway assistant) on the other.
The second amendment of the Automated Driving Regulation came into force in April 2022 and includes five new use cases for testing and introduces new requirements to ensure the highest possible safety during testing. The new use cases are covering automated vehicle for passenger transport (based on type-approved vehicles), automated vehicle for transport of goods, automated working machines, automated highway pilot on ramps and exits and valet parking. Based on this new use cases it is possible to test the entire scope of automation.
Additionally the 2nd amendment defines new requirements for route analysis and risk assessment of the route, which is an additional building block to ensure safety in the course of testing automated vehicles on public roads. This assessment of the risk potential of the route allows identifying sections of the route where risk-mitigating measures need to be set and to identify those sections that may not be suitable for testing automated vehicles at all. Risk mitigation is possible with the following precautions or measures: infrastructural measures and vehicle-related, organisational or other adequate measures.
Furthermore, a proof that adequate familiarisation with the specific test case, including the specific local conditions, the respective test route, the planned driving maneuvers, etc. has taken place must also be provided to ensure safety during test drives.