Introducing an Autonomous Vehicles Regulation Review for the Commercial use of AVs


Israel and the World Economic Forum Release an Autonomous Vehicles Regulation Review to inform Israel’s Efforts to Enable the Commercial use of AVs

Israel Innovation Authority, Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Israel, the World Economic Forum and the Israeli Ministry of Transportation and Road Safety are launching a report, comparing AV regulation in leading countries – which will form the basis for Israeli regulation in the field

The accelerated technological development and the entry of innovative technologies into heavily regulated markets poses many challenges to regulators around the world. In order to promote the Israeli economy’s readiness for the introduction of innovative technologies such as artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, drones and more, the Israeli Government decided to cooperate with the World Economic Forum for the purpose of participating in the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution network, established by the Forum to assist regulators in adopting regulation of innovative technologies, through multi-stakeholder approach and international cooperation.  Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Israel was established in 2019 by the Innovation Authority and assists various government ministries in implementing technological regulation in a variety of areas, including smart transportation and autonomous vehicles.

The report, led by Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Israel in the Innovation Authority in collaboration with the Ministry of Transport and the World Economic Forum, includes a comparative global review of leading policy initiatives on autonomous vehicles. The purpose of future regulation is to allow the use of autonomous vehicles that can perform the driving task, in full or in part, without human intervention. This report is the first in a series of policy papers aimed at forming the basis for flexible, agile regulation that will allow autonomous vehicles on public roads in Israel.

The purpose of the report is to assist the Ministry of Transport and other policy makers and governmental entities to create a regulatory framework for pilots and commercial use of autonomous vehicles in Israel. The Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Justice and other relevant ministries are currently formulating regulation that will make it possible to expand the trials and use of autonomous vehicles in Israel, in order to enable ambitious and groundbreaking projects to turn Israel into a global autonomous vehicle testing centre. A major project is Mobileye’s autonomous taxi project (Robotaxis) in collaboration with Volkswagen and Champion Motors, where 100 autonomous driverless taxi cabs will travel roads in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, and provide transportation services to the public. Israel aspires to be the second country to operate an autonomous taxi service without a driver open to the general public, after the service offered by Waymo (a subsidiary of Alphabet) in Tempe, Arizona, USA.

Guidebook for the regulation of autonomous vehicles: The published report creates a set of recommendations and best practices for regulators, and reviews major trends and key challenges in leading countries. The report shows that while the industry is focused on testing and trials, countries are preparing the regulatory framework that will enable full commercial use of autonomous vehicles, to ensure regulation will not be a barrier once the technology is mature. Israel is also seeking to present regulation prior to commercialization, to guide the industry and position itself as a leading market for AVs .

Top Recommendations arising from the report assimilated in the Israeli legislation draft: 
A key recommendation is to establish clear rules and procedures for conducting pilots with and without a driver, in a flexible and changeable format according to technological developments, to provide regulatory certainty and attract companies wishing to operate in Israel. In this context, Israel will adopt the Singaporean model which uses a “regulatory sandbox”, a policy tool that allows companies to receive exemptions and reliefs from regulatory requirements for a limited time and to a limited extent.

Another key recommendation concerns the long-term regulation of commercial use of autonomous vehicles. This recommendation includes the establishment of a body, led by the Ministry of Transport, which will build a strategic plan (Road Map) for operational and regulatory reforms for AVs in Israel. This plan shall include suggested reforms on significant issues that are also under discussion around the world, including safety approaches and licensing, changes in the structure of criminal and civil liability, issues of data gathering and reporting accidents to the authorities, privacy and insurance. Following this recommendation, Israel decided to establish a cross-ministerial committee, headed by the DG of the Ministry of Transport, for advancing the regulatory framework for AV’s in Israel, inclusive of both government and external experts in AV technology and regulation.  

Another key recommendation of the report is investing in public acceptance. Around the world, the formulation of the regulation is done with the extensive and significant public participation, in order to familiarize the public with driverless cars and to reduce fears of the technology. Following this recommendation, Israel dedicated a section in the draft to transparency and information sharing with the public. 

Formulation groundbreaking Israeli regulation in collaboration with international autonomous vehicle industry and regulators from around the world: The report was written by Adv. Maya Azaria from the Regulation Centre in the Innovation Authority (Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Israel) and Dr. Maya Ben Dror from the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution network of the World Economic Forum, in collaboration with the Senior Head of Projects and Technologies Division at the National Public Transportation Authority, Mr. Uri Applebaum, and in consultation with leading regulators from the countries reviewed. Among the regulatory bodies listed in the report are: the California Licensing Authority (California DMV), the Arizona Transportation Department (Arizona ADOT), the federal body in charge of transport reforms in Australia (NTC), the Singapore Land Transport Authority (Singapore LTA), and the body recommending law reforms in the UK – UK Law Commissions. As part of the regulation process, a community of leading companies was established, comprised of international companies, including: Uber, Waymo, Zoox, Cruise, as well as companies operating in Israel, including: GM, Yandex, Mobileye and ST Engineering. The Ministry of Transport, through Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Israel, meets and consults with the community of companies for the purpose of writing the regulation, in order to bridge knowledge gaps between the regulator and the industry  and ensure that the regulation allows for continued technological development, while maintaining the safety and security of road users.

Reducing congestion and enabling MaaS (Mobility as a Service): To ensure that autonomous vehicles do not negatively impact congestion in Israel, the Ministry of Transport has decided that the first autonomous vehicles to enter the State of Israel should be deployed in shared mobility services.  This strategy has also been pursued by some of the nations studied in this report, where trials of shared autonomous vehicles, shuttles and buses were facilitated and incentivized to encourage development of high-occupancy, high-utilization vehicles for maximum efficiency.