Lane keep

Some 60 countries have reached a milestone in mobility with the adoption of a United Nations Regulation that will allow for the safe introduction of automated vehicles in certain traffic environments.

The UN Regulation establishes strict requirements for Automated Lane Keeping Systems (ALKS) for passenger cars which, once activated, are in primary control of the vehicle. However, the driver can override such systems and can be requested by the system to intervene, at any moment.

Adopted yesterday by UNECE’s World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations, this is the first binding international regulation on so-called “level 3” vehicle automation. The new Regulation therefore marks an important step towards the wider deployment of automated vehicles to help realize a vision of safer, more sustainable mobility for all. It will enter into force in January 2021.

ALKS can be activated under certain conditions on roads where pedestrians and cyclists are prohibited and which, by design, are equipped with a physical separation that divides the traffic moving in opposite directions. In its current form, the Regulation limits the operational speed of ALKS systems to a maximum of 60 km/h.

The government of Japan – which co-led the drafting of the Regulation with Germany – will apply the Regulation upon entry into force. The European Commission, which also contributed to its development alongside, amongst others, France, the Netherlands and Canada, has announced that the Regulation will apply in the European Union following its entry into force.

The drafting of the Regulation was guided by UNECE’s framework on automated/autonomous vehicles, which places safety at the core of the UN’s leading regulatory work in this strategic area for the future of mobility. The Regulation is thus an important step towards harnessing such advanced technologies to reduce crashes as part of a holistic, safe system approach to road safety.

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 as soon as the system issues a transition demand, for instance in advance of the end of an authorized road section. The Regulation also lays down requirements on how the driving task shall be safely handed back from the ALKS to the driver, including the capability for the vehicle to come to a stop in case the driver does not reply appropriately.

The Regulation defines safety requirements for:

  • Emergency Manoeuvres, in case of an imminent collision;
  • Transition Demand, when the System asks the driver to take back control;
  • Minimum Risk Manoeuvres – when the driver does not respond to a transition demand, in all situations the system shall minimise risks to safety of the vehicle occupants and other road users.

The Regulation includes the obligation for car manufacturers to introduce Driver Availability Recognition Systems. These systems control both the driver’s presence (on the driver’s seats with seat belt fastened) and the driver’s availability to take back control (see details below). 

It also introduces the obligation to equip the vehicle with a “black box”, so called Data Storage System for Automated Driving (DSSAD), which will record when ALKS is activated (see details below). 

The Regulation sets out clear performance-based requirements that must be met by car manufacturers before ALKS-equipped vehicles can be sold within countries mandating the Regulation. A number of major automotive manufacturers are expected to apply the Regulation upon entry into force. The Regulation includes provisions governing type approval, technical requirements, audit and reporting, and testing.

ALKS functionalities will also have to be compliant with the cybersecurity and software update requirements laid out in the two new UN Regulations adopted on the same day.

About UNECE’s World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations

The World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations (WP.29), hosted by UNECE, is the intergovernmental platform that defines the technical requirements applied by the automotive sector worldwide.

About the UN Regulation on Automated Lane Keeping Systems

The regulation text is available at: https://undocs.org/ECE/TRANS/WP.29/2020/81  

ALKS activation criteria:

  • The driver is in the driver seat with safety belt fastened;
  • The driver is available to take over control of the driving task;
  • No failure affecting the safe operation or some functionalities of the system is detected;
  • DSSAD is operational;
  • Positive confirmation of system self-check; and
  • The vehicle is on roads where pedestrians and cyclists are prohibited and which, by design, are equipped with a physical separation that divides the traffic moving in opposite directions;
  • The environmental and infrastructural conditions allow the operation;

Driver Availability Recognition System:

  • Driver presence;
  • Driver availability;
  • Actions taken when driver is deemed unavailable.
  • Criteria for deeming driver availability:
    • The driver deemed to be unavailable unless at least two availability criteria (e.g. input to driver-exclusive vehicle control, eye blinking, eye closure, conscious head or body movement) have individually determined that the driver is available over the last 30 seconds;
  • Actions taken when driver is deemed unavailable.

Data Storage System for Automated Driving (DSSAD)  

The system will record the following events:

  • Activation of the system;
  • Deactivation of the system (e.g. override on the steering wheel);
  • Transition Demand by the system (e.g. planned, unplanned etc.);
  • Reduction or suppression of driver input;
  • Emergency Manoeuvre;
  • Involved in a detected collision;
  • Minimum Risk Manoeuvre engagement by the system;
  • Failures.

DSSAD data shall be available subject to requirements of national law.