Norway aims to allow testing of self-driving cars in 2017

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 22, 2016 10:49 AM

OSLO (Reuters) - The Norwegian government aims to pass a law in the spring of next year to allow testing of self-driving vehicles on Norwegian roads, it said on Thursday.

Norway is one of the largest markets for Tesla Motors electric vehicles, thanks to generous government subsidies. Tesla said in October its new models will come with hardware, including cameras and a radar, to enable them to be fully-self driving.

The move to permit testing of self-driving vehicles is also aimed at giving a competitive edge to Norwegian technology companies as the country seeks to diversify away from the offshore petroleum sector, hit by a plunge in global oil prices.

Other companies exploring self-driving cars include Alphabet's Google, Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL] and Ford Motor Co.

Norway's Ministry of Transport and Communications said the government was sending out a proposal for consultation on a new law with the aim of getting a bill passed by parliament in the spring of 2017.

"The objective of the bill is to facilitate the testing of self-driving vehicles on Norwegian roads ... within the framework of traffic safety while protecting the integrity of personal information," it said in a statement.

Self-driving vehicles will be introduced gradually, and only technologically mature systems would be approved for testing, it added.

The roll-out of self-driving cars faces a bumpy start in some countries due to lack of regulation and public scepticism about their safety.

Uber stopped testing its self-driving cars in San Francisco this week, after California authorities revoked the registration of 16 of its self-driving cars because they had not received the proper permits.

Uber said it was not obliged to have a permit because its vehicles require continuous monitoring by a person in the car.

(Reporting by Nerijus Adomaitis; Editing by Adrian Croft)