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The Regulation on Public Road Test of Self-Driving: Brief Review on Beijing Regulation of Self-Driving Road Test

He Shanshan   2018-03-31 17:09
There is a legal issue that "the test on public road cannot be operated", which perplexes self-driving enterprise for a long time. This problem was solved after the introduction of the Detailed Implementing Rules of Management on Self-Driving Road Test.
There is a legal issue that “the test on public road cannot be operated”, which perplexes the self-driving enterprise for a long time. However, this problem was solved after the introduction of the Detailed Implementing Rules of Management on Self-Driving Road Test (Trial Implementation) (hereafter referred to as the BJRSRT). This detailed regulation, which is initiated by Beijing Municipal Committee of Communication, is the first regulation on public road test of self-driving in China. Thus, it is an “ice-breaking” move and has a symbolic significance. Throughout the ages, the self-driving technology is highly pursued by enterprises and capital, especially after the failure of Jia Yueting, it is more like a unilateral wishful issue under the chasing of capital. Nevertheless, the promulgation of the related regulation not only reflects the government positive attitude to the new technology, but also signifies the industrial development transformation from possibility to certainty, and strengthen the confidence for the future product development and industry arrival.
 
Though the BJRSRT system is integrated, there are ten points should be paid attention to.
 
The BJRSRT includes 7 chapters, 33 clauses, 8 appendixes, and refers to the following “ten points”:
 
1.  Management organizations and their responsibilities
The top management organization of self-driving road test is the “management joint working group”, which is initiated by Beijing Municipal Committee of Communication and jointly established with Beijing Municipal Traffic Management Bureau and Beijing Municipal Economic and Information Commission. Under the “management joint working group”, there is an “Expert Committee of self-driving testing”, including experts in transportation, communication, automobile, electron, computer, law and other relative fields. Also, the management joint working group has a right on authorizing a third party to manage the supervision of overall self-driving vehicle testing process, which consists of application acceptance, expert evaluation, test track, data collection and day-to-day supervision.
 
2.  Testing subject
Testing subject is the independent legal entity registered in China, including six categories, which are manufacturers, system operators, parts manufacturers, Internet service providers, research institutes or universities and others. It means if a foreign enterprise expects to operate the self-driving test in Beijing, such enterprise must be registered and become a legal entity in China.
 
3.  Testing vehicle
Testing vehicle should be the unregistered motor vehicle. On the performance, the testing vehicle should possess the driving functions and equipment of a regular vehicle, which could realize manual operation by the driver in emergency situations; the vehicle should install the vision warning equipment, so that the driver could understand the operation circumstance; the system should have enablement and logout functions; the system also should possess security warning function. When the vehicle encounters a system failure, instant warning should be given to the driver to take control over the vehicle, if the driver cannot control, the vehicle can arouse the emergency braking. This shows the BJRSRT mainly aims to the self-driving vehicle of L2 to L4.
 
4.  Testing driver
According to the necessity of security, the BJRSRT supervises the testing driver from the following three aspects:
(1)   Employer supervision. The testing subject should conclude labor contract with the driver and promise to be responsible and supervise on the operation of driver.
(2)   The driver requires both general and special driving conditions. The general condition requires the testing driver to be an “old hand”. For example, the driver should have a driving license, a safe driving experience for more than three years without any DUIs, and mastering the road traffic safety theoretical knowledge and self-driving technology system and so on; the special condition requires the driver to master the switchover of man-machine interaction to measure the emergency situation in testing process and provide related evidence. Such evidence could be example of the testing driver was in actual control under dangerous situation, and certification of the test driver has operated the self-driving system for more than 50 hours.
(3)   The duty of care of the driver. The test driver should supervise the operation circumstance of the self-driving in real time, and instantly take over the control of the testing vehicle when the self-driving system fails or warns.
 
5.  The responsibility affirmation in traffic accident
The testing driver is the subject of accident liability. Because of the labor contract between the driver and the testing enterprise, the behavior of driver is defined as the duty behavior. If the test causes damages, the testing enterprise should undertake the responsibility of compensation.
 
6.  Insurance and compensation requirement
In the application process of testing qualification, the testing enterprise should purchase the traffic accident liability insurance, or provide the letter of guarantee on the accident compensation of self-driving road test, which is no less than five million RMB, and submit the “self-proof on the compensation ability of testing subject”.
 
7.  Data recording and preservation
In order to record entire driving operation situation and affirm the traffic responsibility, the date requires to be recorded and preserved in real time. The self-driving data recording device should be installed on the testing vehicle, which can help to constantly record the related date in real time during the entire process. When the testing vehicle collides with others, goes out of control, logs out from the self-driving or goes into other situations, the data recording device should record the relative data from at least sixty seconds before the accident occurrence to the stop of vehicle. Also, the recording device should preserve the operation date for at least three years.
 
8.  Install Monitoring Devices
In order to ensure safety and improve supervision, test vehicles should be equipped with monitoring devices to transmit relevant regulatory data to authorized agencies of third parties in real time, and accept supervision by the third party.
 
9.  Submit “Autonomous Vehicle Disengagement Reports”
“Autonomous Vehicle Disengagement Reports” are effective means of evaluating the maturity of autonomous driving technology by regulatory agencies. Aiming at the “disengagement” situation of autonomous driving system during tests, test subjects shall report to the third party monthly with the automatic driving records from data logging device, which was recorded 30 seconds before the occurrence of the automatic driving disengagement incidents.
 
10.  Liability of Illegal Operation
Illegal operation will be punished strictly, as well as incorrect applications. If there is a violation by a test subject in operation, such subject will be disqualified from testing and may not re-apply qualification within one year. If a test subject submits false information in order to obtain qualification, such subject will lose and may not re-apply it forever.

BJRSRT is Consistent with International Rules and Own Chinese Characteristics.
 
BJRSRT uses the advanced experience from abroad, which basically keeps in line with international rules regarding test vehicles, test drivers, identification of the liability in accidents, insurance, data recording and storage, autonomous vehicle disengagement reports and so on. In terms of test vehicles and drivers, the rules has followed the development trend of autonomous driving in various countries. Beginning tests with the more conservative Level 2 and Level 3, the rules requires the driver sitting in driver’s seat shall maintain vigilance so as to take over the automatic driving vehicle artificially whenever necessary. At this point, the rules is synchronized with those in Germany and is also the same as the state law of America that conducted the road test of autonomous vehicles in the early days. As for the controversial identification of liability in accidents, the rules has adopted the same practices from Japan, the United Kingdom, Germany and some states of America. Under the existing road traffic laws, the rules makes use of insurance to solute the problem of compensation quickly and effectively. The traffic police in law enforcement process shall determine the liability of drivers in accordance with the existing road traffic rules, while insurance will compensate in advance to ensure the interests of the victims without distinguishing whether the liability is on the driver or the driving system. Therefore, the rules also goes with the tide of international standards in the insurance system, but the only fly in the ointment is that insurance companies in China have still to be developed the insurance to match this situation.
In addition, BJRSRT has also maintain the provisions with Chinese characteristics. For example, the main test subjects do not include foreign companies, the entire test process requires to upload data in real-time for supervision by regulatory agencies, who could also authorize third parties to implement supervision and so on.

Laws and Regulations Need Further Improvement, and Regulatory Agencies Shall Balance Between Development Encouragement and Security Safeguard.
 
How to implement BJRSRT, and basing on what kind of standard to issue “pass license” to the applicant enterprises for road test are now burning problems need to be solved urgently for regulatory agencies. According to the rules, vehicles applying for road test need to meet the “test threshold”, which demand them to do the test no less than set mileages and scenes according to relevant requirements in a closed test site certified by regulatory agencies of autonomous driving technology. The test threshold remains to be further quantified, and should consider a combination of simulation test and closed-place test from international experience. Regulatory agencies shall conduct preliminary review thoroughly so as to ensure that test vehicles have already possessed with basic safety before they cruise the streets, and thus avoid major traffic accidents.
Furthermore, with regard to the distribution and identification of liability, current provisions cannot solve the issue of administrative and criminal liability of drivers. In fact, as more than ten participants are involved in autonomous vehicles, including drivers and car factories, as well as software service providers and system operators. The premise of liability distribution is based on previously defined obligations to be fulfilled by all parties.
Some provisions of the rules are slightly rigid, such as testing vehicles should be equipped with visual reminder device. The “visual reminder” is an early legal term used in the states laws of America. As autonomous driving technology continues to be improved during test, states of America and Germany have replaced “visual reminders” with more flexible terms such as “perceptibly reminder”.
 
All in all, looking at the development of autonomous driving in America, who was treated as the pioneer of autonomous driving legislation over the past six years, the laws and regulations of its states have also gone through a lengthy process from practice to experience, rigidity to flexibility, one-sidedness to system, and conservativeness to openness. China is still in the early stage of open road test. BJRSRT is a milestone and a beginning of the journey of autonomous driving legislation. The author suggests that, concerning autonomous driving as one of the new science and technologies, it is essential to maintain the stability of the existing legal system as well as to create flexibility and foresight that can solve practical problems when doing the design of the top-level systems and rules. In the future practice of road test, legislators and regulators should strike a balance between encouraging development and ensuring safety so as to guide and supervise the development of automatic driving technology.