This FAQ are for general information purposes only and should not be considered complete or applicable to any situation. They represent the opinion and interpretation of the Contact Point Automated Mobility and are not legally binding.
The terms “autonomous”, “fully automated”, “driverless” and also “self-propelled” are often used synonymously and mostly refer to the highest level of automation (SAE-Level 5). In this case, the vehicle can handle all situations (at any time, under all circumstances and weather conditions and on all roads) itself and does not require any driver intervention. Such vehicles usually do not have any control instruments (e.g. steering wheel).
Automated driving, however, means that processes and procedures can be carried out without human intervention. Automated vehicles have systems that could assume individual driving tasks.
These systems are divided into different categories and range from a simple cruise control to an automatic lane-keeping system up to a fully automated vehicle that requires no driver intervention anymore. The development of these systems is an ongoing process. The market maturity of these systems greatly depend on the field of application and the associated legal framework conditions.
The degrees of automation describe the various stages of automated driving. The most common definition of the different levels of automated driving corresponds to the representation of the international recommendation “SAE J3016”.
The Contact Point Automated Mobility at AustriaTech is the first counterpart in legal and technological issues for national and international companies and projects who want to test automated vehicles according to the Automated Driving Ordinance (AutomatFahrV) in Austria. It examines the conditions for obtaining a certificate for testing of automated vehicles on public roads. On top of this, the Contact Point networks the various test environments, projects and stakeholder in order to impart and exchange knowledge and information in the best possible way and to provide feedback for the legislator within the framework of impact monitoring.
Learning from tests and pilot projects within the framework of clearly defined use cases as well as the development of new forms of mobility is the main focus of the Austrian strategy for the development of automated mobility.
Based on the 33rd amendment to the Motor Vehicle Act, the BMVIT issued the Ordinance on Automated Driving (Automatisiertes Fahren Verordnung in short “AutomatFahrV”) on public roads. It specifies the conditions for testing automated vehicles on public roads. In particular, it defines which assistance systems in which traffic situation, on which types of roads, up to which speed ranges can be tested.
The ordinance defines three use cases. The first amendment to the AutomatFahrV (version of March 11, 2019) defined two new use cases for approved systems in series under section 3. Since March 13th, 2019 the assistance systems “parking aid” and “motorway assistance with automatic lane keeping” have been permitted on roads with public transport under certain conditions.
The Automated Driving Ordinance (AutomatFahrV) currently (as of March 2019) permits the following use cases:
You may download the Automated Driving Ordinance here.
By creating a legal framework through the BMVIT, it is possible to test automated vehicles under compliance and fulfilments of certain conditionsCurrently it is not possible to perform tests on public roads beyond the scope of the Ordinance on Automated Driving. Companies wishing to carry out such tests should step in contact with the Contact Point Automated Mobility at an early planning stage. The Contact Point Automated Driving will gladly collect the relevant requirements in order to include them into the process of expanding the test possibilities, where appropriate.
The requirements for testing on public roads are defined in the Code of Practice.
The Code of Practice (CoP) serves as guidance for vehicle manufacturers and testing organisations and is designed to establish the framework to ensure safety during tests on public transport roads. The CoP guidelines are intended to serve as complementary guidelines to the legal requirements and any regulatory procedures and requirements. Compliance with the CoP regulations does not exempt from any liability obligations.
Vehicle manufacturers must ensure that automated vehicle technologies have undergone extensive testing and development before they go into production. Testing must initially take place on private test sites and tracks. These tests must at least provide evidence and ensure that the automated driving mode can be assumed to manual control by test drivers at any time to ensure the necessary safety during the tests.
Once the reliability of the systems has been proven, further tests on public roads will be necessary to test all situations that may arise in real life. However, such tests may only be carried out if it has been ensured that they are associated with minimal risks and if they are necessary to address the research issue in question, as it can only be addressed by testing on public roads.
The application for testing the use case “self-driving minibuses” may be submitted by vehicle manufacturers, system developers, research institutions, transport companies and operators of motor vehicle lines.
According to the ordinance the systems of “motorway pilot scheme with lane-change assistant” may be tested by vehicle manufacturers, system developers and research institutes.
The application of a “self-driving military vehicle” may only be tested by the Federal Ministry of Defence.
The test requests can be submitted to the contact point using an application form quarterly. Then test applications, which have been received, are evaluated technically and legally with the support of the Council of Experts. Applications that are covered by the existing ordinance and meet all requirements are sent to BMVIT to issue an individual certification. Test plans beyond the scope of the use cases defined in the AutomatFahrV are currently not possible in Austria. The Contact Point Automated Mobility continuously collects these test requirements in order to subsequently analyse which additional use cases are required and should be implemented.
The committee consists mainly of technicians and lawyers who, together with experts from cross-sectional areas, evaluate the submitted test applications on a quarterly basis. Most of them contain completely new technologies for which there are no standardised acceptance criteria. That is the reason why the committee's technicians examine the information of the test applications in detail. Only in this way it is possible to make a reliable assessment whether these technologies are so mature that they can be safely tested on public roads. The members with legal expertise assess in parallel whether such tests are legally covered by the international and national legal bases and contribute to formulating new use cases for the AutomatFahrV in order to be able to work out necessary adaptations as quickly as possible in order to secure competitive advantages.
The committee of experts makes recommendations on the following topics: ethics, data protection, (product) liability, road traffic regulations, international activities, further development of road infrastructure and urban planning. The Council identifies recommendations for action and attitude for the BMVIT within the framework of future strategy and advises on how to proceed in various areas in the future. The recommendations in the area of ethics serve in particular to improve communication of the topic of automation to the public.
These are assistance systems, which may be integrated as standard by the vehicle manufacturer as they are legally approved. However, this does not mean that they are included as standard in the basic equipment of all vehicles.
Since the first amendment of the AutomatFahrV (11.03.2019) approved parking aids and motorway assistance with automatic lane keeping installed as standard in vehicles may be used on public roads under certain conditions in Austria. In this case, both hands may be removed from the steering wheel.
An increasing number of vehicles are being equipped with advanced driver assistance systems. These systems are firmly integrated in the vehicle as they are legally permitted and are intended to facilitate driving tasks and thus support drivers. This support ranges from information and warning to steering speed control. However, drivers can deactivate or override these systems at any time.
Examples for driver assistance systems:
Electronic Stability Program (ESP): The vehicle is automatically stabilised in critical driving situations such as skidding.
Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC): Cruise Control with automatic distance control.
Lane Departure Warning (LDW): The Lane Departure Warning uses integrated cameras to ensure that the lane is maintained. There are systems that alert drivers with haptic warning functions (vibration in the steering wheel) or lane departure warning systems that actively intervene in the steering.
Parking aid: The system performs the driving task when the vehicle is parked or unparked by means of an automatic steering function.
Automatic accident reporting (eCall): In the event of an accident, information is forwarded to a central reporting point via crash and/or collision sensors.
In principle, there are two versions of type approval for motor vehicles:
Motor vehicles manufactured in series, which are equipped with an EC type-approval after January 1st, 1996 generally have an EC type-approval. The EC type-approval is granted by a member state and is valid in all member states.
General information, responsible authorities, procedures and documents required for the typing of vehicle conversions can be found here (this page is only available in German).
For vehicles, for which a type certificate cannot be issued, an application for individual approval may be submitted. The individual approval of vehicles is a matter for the federal state and must therefore be granted in the federal state in which the owner of the vehicle is resident.
The technical inspection bodies of the federal state government can be found here (this page is only available in German).