The UN is advocating for higher speed limits, but only for robocars.
The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) has put forward a draft amendment which would allow autonomous cars to drive up to 130km/h – more than double the current limit.
The proposal would mean passenger vehicles with Level 3 autonomous driving technology would be able to perform actions like automatic lane changing on freeways.
With Australia being one of the signatories to the regulatory framework set by the UNECE, the move could allow Tesla’s Full Self-Driving (FSD) system to become available within six months.
Despite the full suite of functions not being approved locally, Tesla allows its Australian customers to purchase FSD for $10,100 as an optional extra.
In recent days, Automotive News reported the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) was extending its investigation of Tesla’s Autopilot system – a lower level of semi-autonomous driving tech – to include a total of 830,000 built between 2014 and 2022.
The investigation opened following a spate of accidents and one fatality which have been allegedly attributed to the technology.
“I would be shocked if we do not achieve Full Self-Driving safer than a human this year. I would be shocked,” Tesla CEO Elon Musk told analysts in January 2022.
“Being safer than a human is a low standard, not a high standard,” Musk said at the time.
“People are often distracted, tired, texting … it’s remarkable that we [human drivers] don’t have more accidents.”
Previously, the UNECE mandated most actions available to so-called ‘robocars’ were only allowed to be performed at speeds below 60km/h.
The UNECE rules meant Level 3 autonomous vehicles would only be able to operate lane-keeping duties at freeway speeds.
The vehicles will be required to store driving data which can be accessed and analysed by authorities in the event of a collision – in a similar way to an aeroplane’s ‘black box’.
While the amendment has yet to be approved by the UNECE World Forum for the Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations, it’s expected this will happen later this month when the lawmakers meet, and will be adopted by the more than 50 countries which have signed onto the rules.