Testing Autonomous Vehicles on Public Roads: Facilitated by a Series of Alternative, Often Soft, Legal Instruments

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

3 Citations (Scopus)


The desire to test autonomous vehicles on public roads confronted the industry with legislation that would not allow the industry to do so. Vehicles without human drivers are often not allowed on public roads. Why did the legislator not simply take out the necessity of having a human driver from the road safety laws or the traffic laws? The cause lies in the technology of the autonomous vehicles. Neither the industry nor academia are able to fully portray the risks, or their absence, of the technology used in autonomous vehicles. To understand the technology in more depth, testing in complex, real life situations, is necessary. Public roads can offer that environment. Without knowing the risks and still faced with demands for testing, legislators did initially not favor hard law instruments to regulate testing on public roads. Soft law instruments existed in various formats. Yet, the more experience the legislators gained with the regulation of testing autonomous vehicles on public roads, more and more hard law instruments started to appear. These hard laws are either allowing the creation of a space to experiment or offering just a framework. Framework providing laws are often supplemented by lower level legislation or guidelines. No matter which approach is taken, the general tendency is that each of these instruments tends to be technology neutral and favor a permit system. In most systems the industry is involved in setting up the parameters of the testing. Insurance is necessary as well as collaboration with public authorities.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPerspectives in Law, Business and Innovation
Number of pages26
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Publication series

NamePerspectives in Law, Business and Innovation
ISSN (Print)2520-1875
ISSN (Electronic)2520-1883

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Law
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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