Why you won’t see self-driving cars on France’s roads any time soon

Why you won't see self-driving cars on France's roads any time soon

ARND WIEGMANN/REUTERS An employee demonstrates driving via the level 3 Drive Pilot autonomous driving system in a new Mercedes-Benz S-Class.


An employee demonstrates driving via the level 3 Drive Pilot autonomous driving system in a new Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

TRANSPORTATION – The future is already here… or almost. Since this Thursday, September 1, synonymous with the start of the school year, France has officially authorized the circulation of certain autonomous cars, although it will still take patience to really experience these vehicles.

In force since July 14 in Europe, the so-called driving “autonomous level 3” now it is possible in France. Previously, autonomy was allowed for level 2 in France (partial automation with speed and direction control, as is already the case with the “Park Assist” option, for example).

But to experience level 3 autonomy it will still be necessary to get hold of a model of this type, which is far from an easy task: no manufacturer established on French soil has the approvals to market a model of this type.

Especially since to be able to travel on the roads of France in an autonomous car of this type, it will be necessary to respect a series of quite restrictive conditions: drive on a road prohibited to bicycles and pedestrians and equipped with a central separator, do not exceed the maximum speed of 60 km/h (the speed of 130 km/h can be reached soon if the car can achieve automatic overtaking) and finally being able to regain control of the vehicle at any time from the driver’s seat.

What to use mainly in traffic jams and other traffic jams on the road, as well as crowded devices. For the rest, it still seems difficult to see this type of vehicle proliferate before a certain time.

Mercedes way ahead of the competition

For now, only Mercedes seems to be well positioned in Europe to supply these car models in France. But according to the German manufacturer behind the Class S or EQS ranges (which have the “Driving Pilot” optional), France is not yet on the agenda: ” We have already started talks with the French authorities, but we cannot give a timetable.” advances a spokesman for the brand to echoes. yesespecially since this autonomous piloting option requires a complete mapping of the roads in France beforehand.

On the Tesla side, we remain cautious. The models currently tested in the United States correspond more to level 4 or 5 in terms of autonomy. As for the more classic models already marketed in France, they are considered level 2. Among French brands, nothing announced for more than two years. , in particular for the Stellantis group (Citroën, Peugeot, Fiat, Jeep) which intends to collaborate with BMW to develop its first level 3 autonomous model, as noted by France Inter.

Five levels of autonomy

The autonomy of a car is based on an autonomy scale between 0 and 5. At 0, the vehicle does not have any autonomy system, while at level 5 it is omnipresent (no steering wheel, no pedal, which means that the driver has no impact on the course).

At level 3, we speak more of “conditional automation”. In certain predefined situations, the driver can completely delegate the driving of the vehicle. Even if, at this level, the driver must be able to regain control at any time, to compensate for the limits of the on-board computer, the driver is no longer responsible for driving. Thus, according to the law, a level 3 model implies that it is up to the car manufacturer to assume criminal liability in the event of an accident.

See also in The HuffPost: Aboard a Tesla, travel more than 500 km without touching the steering wheel

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