Testing on public roads

The Regulation presently allows the testing of the following usage cases:

  • Automated minibus
  • Automated valet parking
  • Automated vehicle for the transport of goods
  • Automated vehicle for transport of passenger
  • Automated working machine
  • Autonomous military vehicle
  • Motorway pilot with automated lane change
  • Motorway pilot with automated driving on exits and ramps

Other usage cases can be incorporated in the Regulation through amendments as required and after recommendation by the Council of Experts.

Test running to test automated systems on public roads in accordance with the automated driving Regulation currently looks like this:

  1. Interested parties can submit a standardised test application to the contact point for automated mobility (→ AustriaTech).
  2. The contact point will make an initial assessment of permissibility according to the Regulation, or any necessary amendment to the Regulation, respectively.
  3. An independent Council of Experts, with extensive interdisciplinary expertise, also provides advice. The evaluation by the Council of Experts takes place on a quarterly basis.
    If the test case mentioned is not covered by the existing Regulation, it is possible to incorporate the case by amending the Regulation.
  4. The BMK will issue a temporary permit on the basis of the test application and offer advisory expertise.

A detailed description of the process as well as the expected duration of processing for the testing of automated vehicles and systems in accordance with the Regulation, for subsequent entries, for demonstrations and for test cases that have so far not been addressed by the Regulation, can be found on the website of the national contact point (→ AustriaTech).

Requirements for route analysis and risk assessment of the route

Hence, a specified route analysis and risk assessment of the route is required, which must be submitted with the test application. It is an additional building block to ensure safety in the course of testing automated vehicles on public roads.

The 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. The on-site visit starts with an initial analysis of the route using a checklist. In the process, the local circumstances and surroundings are analysed. This also includes the identification of specific places such as schools or accident hotspots. In the next step, the route is divided into individual sections whenever relevant criteria are changing. These may include intersections, curves or a change in lane width. These individual sections are then assessed for their risk potential using a criteria catalogue. If it becomes apparent that the risk potential is too high in certain sections, the applicant can take appropriate mitigation measures to reduce the risk potential. Risk mitigation is possible with the following precautions or measures:

  • Infrastructural measures: this can include the improvement of existing infrastructure elements as well as the addition of new ones (concrete measures can include, for example, the improvement of poor road markings or the improvement of visibility through regular trimming of plants and grass).
  • Vehicle-related, organisational or other adequate measures: here, for example, measures such as the limitation of operating hours to off-peak times or specific instructions to the operators on how to deal with the concrete risks on certain sections of the route can be taken.

Mandatory training for qualified operators

Working as an operator of automated vehicles that are operated for test purposes is related to certain qualifications that go beyond the qualifications connected with a normal driver's licence. Up to now, a valid training for the automated driving system and a training on the specific test vehicle were sufficient as confirmation. From now on, a proof that adequate familiarisation with the specific test case, including the specific local conditions, the respective test route, the planned driving manoeuvres, etc. has taken place must also be provided. In addition to the route analysis and risk assessment of the route, the obligatory proof of this familiarisation is a further building block to ensure safety during test drives.