Amsterdam to introduce self-driving cars by 2019

European ministers signed an agreement that paves the way for self-driving cars in Europe by 2019. Working together with the Dutch government, the city of Amsterdam wants to start a pilot with the autonomous electric vehicles.

Pieter Litjens, transportation official for Amsterdam, stated that prior to allowing any self-driving cars in the city centre, they will test them on the highways and potentially new areas under development such as the Zuidas.

Declaration of Amsterdam

The agreement, called the Declaration of Amsterdam, calls for the EU member states to make themselves ready for self-driving traffic by 2019.

Current obstacles include differing laws and the incompatible digital communication in the infrastructure of the various member nations.

Dutch Minister of Infrastructure and the Environment Melanie Schultz van Haegen said she is proud of the accomplishment. It is the first time that European politicians have discussed autonomous transportation on such a high level.

According to her, the benefits of self-driving cars include increased safety, more efficiency and increased sustainability.

Motivation for the auto industry

Now that the EU countries will begin to coordinate efforts to make their overall infrastructure ready, automobile manufacturers will be encouraged to continue to develop the necessary technological solutions.

Both laws and technology need to be compatible across borders, in order to avoid self-driving cars requiring a software update each time they enter a new European country.

In terms of communication technology, it’s important that the vehicles don’t lose connection to the mobile network or GPS satellites they’re connected to when they cross a national border.

One example of traffic laws that need to be made more similar is the minimum distance between cars. In Belgium and France the law is 50 metres, in German it’s 2 seconds while Dutch law calls for a "safe distance".

A milestone for Europe

Representatives from the auto industry indicated that, while many challenges remain, the Declaration of Amsterdam is a milestone, promoting the sorely needed partnership between auto manufacturers, national governments and EU institutions.

The video below is in Dutch.

Thomas Lundberg


Thomas Lundberg

Born as a Swede in the Netherlands, this life-long expat has spent his time in Belgium, the United States and Amsterdam. He began his professional career as a regional news...

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