What’s the Latest on AV Regulation?

Article By : Egil Juliussen

The last six months or so have seen a trickle of activity in AV regulation. What we have so far deserves a review.

A year ago, the lack of autonomous vehicle (AV) standards was notable. The last six months or so have seen a trickle of activity in AV regulation at multiple jurisdictional levels: state, country and international. We may never see a flood, but a steady stream would be very useful to everyone involved in developing and deploying AVs. What we have so far deserves a review.

The latest event was the announcement of the ISO 22737 standard for L4, limited to low-speed autonomous driving (LSAD). I think it is significant that we have a first ISO standard at the L4 level.

The LSAD regulation follows the German announcement in late May 2021 that includes some L4 use-cases. France quickly followed with its own AV regulation. There are also AV regulations brewing in several other countries.

The next table summarizes most of the AV-related regulation activities I could find. More information is available below the table. There are other countries that are working on AV regulation that are not included in this column.

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ISO 22737 LSAD

The ISO 22373 standard for low-speed autonomous driving was released on July 7, 2021. ISO’s Technical Committee on Intelligent Transport Systems (ISO/TC204) developed the new standard.

ISO describes the standard this way: ISO 22737, Intelligent transport systems  – Low-speed automated driving systems (LSAD) for predefined routes  – Performance requirements, system requirements and performance test procedures,  provides a common language to help facilitate the development and safe deployment of this technology worldwide.

LSAD systems are designed to operate at Level 4 automation, within specific operational design domains (ODD). A LSAD vehicle is likely to have interactions with Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS).

The ISO 22737 regulation defines minimum requirements and test procedures for LSAD systems. The standard is intended to enable the safe development of vehicles for low-speed autonomous driving. L4 use-cases include goods delivery and fixed-route AVs.

LSAD systems will be used for applications like last-mile transportation, transport in commercial areas, business or university campus areas and other low-speed environments.

A vehicle that is driven by the LSAD system can have many benefits, like providing safe, convenient and affordable mobility and reducing urban congestion. It can also provide increased mobility for people who are not able to drive.

ISO 22737 does not specify sensor technology present in vehicles driven by LSAD systems, which makes it a technology neutral regulation.

ISO 22737 is definitely going for easy AV use-cases — the so-called low-hanging fruit. I think this is a good strategy and will get lots of L4 AVs on the road in a relative short time. The fixed route or pre-defined route use-case will especially benefit Europe with their extensive bus routes. The last mile goods AV use-case will work well in Europe, China, U.S. and other regions.

Germany AV regulation

Germany was the first country to pass AV regulation in late May 2021. The regulation is a work in progress, and it looks like it will allow commercial deployment of only some L4 AV use-cases. The regulation was covered earlier in this column: Germany Leads the Autonomous Vehicle Regulation Race. The ISO 22737 regulation have some overlap with the German AV regulation. Germany is expected to use ISO 22737 with its AV regulation.

It is important to remember that any vehicle sold in Germany must receive Type Approval before sale is legal. This means each vehicle has to be tested to verify that it meets the existing vehicle usage laws. This means that AVs will require certified testing before public use can start.

France AV regulation

On July 1, 2021, France announced the publication of a decree to change the Highway Code and the Transport Code to allow future use of vehicles controlled by automated driving systems as soon as they have received Type Approval. The key achievement of the French law is to remove legal uncertainty surrounding the use of autonomous vehicles.

France is the first country to integrate AV usage by legalizing a framework of complete regulations for the movement of autonomous vehicles. This changes the so-called Vienna Convention on Road Traffic that mandates that a person is always in charge of driving a vehicle. France is now ready to allow AVs to be in control of driving starting in September 2022.

France is also starting with simple AV use-cases and is listing pre-defined routes and zones as the starting point. It is likely that France will leverage ISO 22737 LSAD standard for the AV technology that will be used. France also has Type Approval laws for vehicle sales, and this will be required for AVs.

U.S. AV regulation

In the U.S. several regulation activities have been announces including two from NHTSA since December 2020. The latest NHTSA regulation is getting data from crashes involving ADAS L2 and AV testing and was covered in  U.S. Crash Order Will Help Build an AV Safety Database. This regulation started June 29, 2021, and lasts three years.

The main AV regulation in the U.S. will come from NHTSA which is part of the Department of Transportation (DoT). EE Times has covered NHTSA’s release of its ANPRM in December 2020 in two separate columns. My first column called: NHTSA is Defining Safety for Self-Driving Cars, But It Has Questions For You covers the background for the NHTSA regulation with summary of earlier NHTSA AV activities, NHTSA AV Framework Approach and perspectives on potential evolution of this effort

The second column called: NHTSA Frames Safety for Cars without Drivers is a summary of the many elements of NHTSA’s proposed rulemaking including safety frameworks, administration of voluntary and regulatory mechanisms.

NHTSA received over 700 written comments and will analyze this information until November 2021. Hence it is unlikely that we will have AV regulation in 2021 and more likely in 2022 or even 2023.

Additionally, many U.S. states have passed AV laws. Currently about 40 states have passed some type of AV laws or regulation or have executive orders from their governors. California has the most extensive rules for testing AVs.

China AV regulation

China is one of the leaders in developing and testing AV technology. I have written several columns in EE Times that include AV activities in China:

China is working on AV regulations, but is probably a year or so away from passing regulations that is part of national road and traffic safety and has AV technology regulations. China has a dual permission system for producing vehicles — a permit to be an auto manufacturer and a permit to produce auto models.

China also have two organizations involved in setting AV regulations — its Ministry of Public Security (MPS) and its Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT).

On March 24, 2021, MPS proposed future legislation for AVs as part of the Road Traffic Safety Act. It is a draft proposal with amendment and looks like a significant milestone. The MPS draft clarifies the requirements for AV road testing and regulating how liability for traffic violations and accidents involving AVs will be allocated.

An example of a low speed autonomous driving (LSAD) vehicle. (Source: ISO).

The second part came on April 7, 2021, when MIIT released its draft regulation for autonomous vehicles. The draft applies to autonomous vehicles equipped with conditional automated driving functions and highly automated driving functions, which largely corresponds to SAE L3 and L4. It looks like SAE L5 is not included in the draft regulation.

The draft sets out safety requirements for AV manufacturers including functional safety, cybersecurity requirements and software update management. Other requirements include ODD and risk minimization, HMI to users for AV operational status, and data logging and storage of AV activities. The last item is essentially an event data recorder (EDR) for tracking AV operation.

Another interesting development is that Shenzhen released its own draft regulation for AVs on March 23, 2021. The Shenzhen AV draft regulations include the whole chain of AV development from road testing, access registration, use management, road transport, traffic accidents, handling of accidents and violations and dealing with legal liability. Shenzhen is planning to be the first location in China where autonomous vehicles are commercially available. It is likely that other regions in China will follow Shenzhen’s lead.

The combination of China’s MPS, MIIT and Shenzhen draft regulations is the beginning of China AV legislation. The competition between Shenzhen and other regions in China may put pressure and speed up China’s AV regulation effort.

Some of the information on China’s AV regulation has been extracted from two articles: China’s Legislation on Autonomous Cars Rolls out and China Opens the Door to Mass Production of Autonomous Cars – A Brief Commentary of the MIIT’s Draft Admission Access Guide.

Russia AV regulation

The Russian government issued regulation to permit testing of driverless cars on regular roads in November 2018. In May 2021, the  Russian government issued a plan for AV testing changes and future commercial AV use on public roads without a safety driver. Russia is likely to have its AV regulation released in 2022 and possibly in 2021. Russia is testing multiple AV use-cases such as robotaxi, autonomous trucks and goods AVs.

Yandex is the AV leader in Russia and is focusing on robotaxi use cases. Yandex has driven seven million autonomous miles as of early May 2021—up from two million miles in early 2020. Yandex have tested AVs in multiple countries and cities. Most of Yandex AV miles are recorded in Moscow, but also has a robotaxi service in Innopolis, Russia. Yandex has AV test programs in Tel Aviv, Israel; Ann Arbor, Michigan; and Las Vegas. Yandex is also testing a fleet of sidewalk delivery robots, called Rovers.

Japan AV Regulation

Japan is cautious about introducing regulation for AVs. The main event is amendments to its Road Transportation Vehicle Act (RTVA) and the Road Traffic Act (RTA) to allow L3 vehicles on the road. L3 vehicles were allowed in April 2020.

The RTVA update defined autonomous driving system (ADS) as a set of sensors and artificial intelligence that replaces all driver capabilities. The RTA allows L4 vehicles but only for road testing, and with prior approval of the police.

It is likely that ISO 22737 LSAD will be added to Japan’s AV regulation and used for fixed route MaaS use-cases.


There is a definite increase in regulation activities starting in late 2020 and 2021. The most significant event is the ISO 22737 LSAD regulation that was released in early July 2021. The LSAD regulation is only for low-speed operation in pre-configured routes and zones but will allow future MaaS use-cases to be deployed in multiple countries. With both Germany and France introducing AV regulation, LSAD will soon be deployed in these countries. I expect other EU countries to follow and it is likely to get a speed-up in EU-wide regulation.

LSAD also include goods delivery use-cases, which is growth opportunity for sidewalk AVs and other dedicated goods AVs. LSAD does not include robotaxi use-cases, but it this is still a very good first step.

China and U.S. regulation is moving forward, and it will be interesting to see when and what will be included in these AV regulations.

This article was originally published on EE Times.

Egil Juliussen has over 35 years’ experience in the high-tech and automotive industries. Most recently he was director of research at the automotive technology group of IHS Markit. His latest research was focused on autonomous vehicles and mobility-as-a-service. He was co-founder of Telematics Research Group, which was acquired by iSuppli (IHS acquired iSuppli in 2010); before that he co-founded Future Computing and Computer Industry Almanac. Previously, Dr. Juliussen was with Texas Instruments where he was a strategic and product planner for microprocessors and PCs. He is the author of over 700 papers, reports and conference presentations. He received B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from Purdue University, and is a member of SAE and IEEE.


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