The UNECE’S WP.29 forum (also known as the World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations) has adopted an amendment to a UN regulation on Automated Lane Keeping Systems (ALKS) that lays down the technical requirements for their use in heavy vehicles – including trucks, buses, and coaches. The forum says that the amendment is the first binding international regulation for the introduction of L3 vehicle autonomy in heavy vehicles.

The regulation, called UN Regulation No. 157, has been in force since January 2021 and already applies to passenger vehicles. The extension of the regulation’s scope through the amendment will apply the regulation’s existing safety requirements to all vehicle categories. In its current form, the regulation allows the use of ALKS on motorways at speeds below 37 mph (60 km/h).

The amendment is expected to enter into force in June 2022 in the 54 Contracting Parties to the 1958 Agreement, which already apply UN Regulation 157. When enacted, it will require a driver availability recognition system to be installed on all heavy vehicles. This system controls the driver’s presence and their availability to regain control of the vehicle. It also sets requirements for the use of a black box in the form of a Data Storage System for Automated Driving, and the retrievability of data in the event of a crash.

It also introduces specific provisions for heavy vehicles, including the need for sensors covering the full length of the vehicle (both the tractor and its trailer), and requirements that take the dynamics of heavy vehicles, such as their reduced braking capability, into consideration.

The regulation requires that on-board displays used by the driver for activities other than driving when the ALKS is activated shall be automatically suspended when the system issues a transition demand. It also outlines how to safely transition driving from the ALKS to the driver, including the capability for the vehicle to come to a stop if the driver does not reply appropriately.