In the spring session of 2023, Parliament voted in favor of amendments to the Swiss Road Traffic Act (SVG). The amendments were accepted by 163 votes to 9 (25 abstentions) in the National Council and 39 votes to 2 (1 abstention) in the Council of States.
This means that the framework conditions for the use of automated vehicles have now been created in the SVG. The corresponding provisions were hardly controversial in parliament, because automated mobility promises more traffic safety, improved traffic flows, less environmental pollution and easier mobility for older people. It also opens up innovative scope for transport companies and the economy. In the medium to long term, automated mobility will also lead to greater efficiency in the transport system.
Greater room for maneuver
Thanks to the new legislation, the Federal Council can partially relieve drivers of their duties by ordinance and allow driverless vehicles with an automation system to operate on defined routes under the supervision of an operator.
Until now, automated vehicles were only allowed in pilot tests and with a safety person on board the vehicle, even if the technology used would have enabled automated driving. This restriction now no longer applies, allowing driverless vehicles to operate in a defined operating area without a safety driver in the vehicle if an operator supervises the vehicle at a distance and can intervene in an emergency.
In future, the Federal Roads Office (FEDRO) will also be able to provide financial support for pilot tests with automated vehicles. This can promote the use of automated vehicles in Switzerland and accelerate the implementation of innovative transport models. FEDRO has already approved various pilot projects whose findings were deemed significant for Switzerland. The new legislation will further drive innovation in Switzerland and pave the way for new business cases with automated mobility.
Significance for SAAM and its members
SAAM has been instrumental in convincing policy makers of the benefits of automated mobility. Hans Wicki, FDP member of the Council of States and president of SAAM, recently stated at the FDP delegates’ meeting:
“The most important thing is to adapt the framework conditions. I am not the only one who is committed to this, but the entire FDP. In addition, it’s about supporting concepts and projects and being able to finance them.”
With the current amendment to the law, the course has been set correctly since March 17, 2023.
The piloting of vehicles with new technologies is crucial for the scaling of automated mobility in Switzerland. One of the largest research projects in this context is the European ULTIMO project, which is testing up to 15 vehicles each at three locations in Europe. The aim is to provide innovative and user-oriented passenger services in fully automated mode (SAE Level 4) without a safety driver on board.