Europe considers relaxing self-driving laws under pressure from Tesla

Europe is considering relaxing its restrictions on self-driving technology under pressure from Tesla.

Regulations that limit the abilities of Autopilot, its driver-assist system, could be eased under proposals tabled by the company last month.

It comes as the California carmaker prepares to release its third-quarter financial results. Many analysts have based positive assessments of Tesla’s stock on the software, and chief executive Elon Musk’s assertions that the cars will shortly be able to operate as a taxi network.

But the system, which can change lanes, take exits on motorways and detect obstacles ahead while under driver supervision, has been curtailed in Europe because of United Nations rules adopted by the EU. The regulations mean Autopilot must complete a lane change within five seconds of signalling and also limit the sharpness with which it can turn.

Drivers have complained that the restrictions lead to the cars dangerously abandoning lane changes and handing control back to the driver midway through turns.

The proposals, submitted by the European Association for Electromobility (Avere), of which Tesla France is a member, suggest raising the lane change time to 20 seconds and increasing the system’s turning ability.

Thomas Croll-Knight, the spokesman for the UN Economic Commission for Europe, said that “several representatives from Tesla” attended a meeting of the UN’s working party on such vehicles last month to present the amendments.

The committee comprises representatives from member countries, including the UK, who examine and then vote on proposals.

Tesla has not yet suggested changes to separate rules that prevent it from launching its Smart Summon feature, which allows users to call their car from across a car park.

Dudley Curtis, the spokesman for the European Transport Safety Council, said: “We think that these kinds of automated features need independent regulatory testing and approval based on a common list of performance requirements and safety standards.”

Tesla and Avere did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

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