Why public-private collaboration is key to developing autonomous vehicle technology in Türkiye

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This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Ali Çağrı Kurucu, IoT & Mobility Platform Lead, C4IR Türkiye, Technology Governance Director at Turkish Employers’ Association of Metal Industries, MESS, Evren Kalfa, Consulting and Projects Manager, Turkish Employers’ Association of Metal Industries, MESS, Sedat Tavukçu, Fellow, C4IR Türkiye (Kale Oto Radyatör), Semih Selçuk, Fellow, C4IR Türkiye (Anadolu Isuzu), Talha Sağıroğlu, Fellow, C4IR Türkiye (Ford Otosan)


  • More needs to be done to accelerate the mobility transformation and the deployment of autonomous vehicles (AV) on public roads.
  • Türkiye is well placed to be a global leader in the field, but the country’s regulatory framework needs to be defined.
  • The C4IR Türkiye outlines how public-private collaboration will be key to developing, implementing and adopting AV technology.

The Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (C4IR) Türkiye is committed to developing policy studies and pilot projects in order to accelerate the mobility transformation, in co-operation with public and private institutions, academics, and NGOs.

For this purpose, we are engaged with the World Economic Forum’s Shaping the Future of Mobility platform, which has initiated various multi-stakeholder projects to accelerate the impact of new mobility trends inclusively and sustainably.

With this project, C4IR Türkiye aims to answer the question: what must be done at minimum to deploy Level 4 (L4) autonomous vehicles (AVs) on public roads?

The Turkish regulatory framework for design, test and infrastructure should be defined to accelerate AV road testing and development. In addition, requirements should be harmonized with EU standards.

To enable the autonomous driving technology by 2030, simple testing regulation for L4 (high driving automation) autonomous vehicles on public roads needs to be created.

Türkiye at vital location for commercial transport

Türkiye, as a G20 country with $720bn in GDP in 2020, is at a critical location for commercial transport due to its geopolitical position, infrastructure investments and trade potential. Turkish foreign trade carried on roads was valued at $91.6bn in 2019.

Thus, Türkiye could be an accelerator for autonomous transportation as a 3,633 km highway has already been built from the west to the south-east border, where 75.101 million tons of goods per kilometre were carried by 2021. Highways carry a quarter of goods transported in roadways in Türkiye.

Autonomous trucking could cut middle mile logistics costs in half by 2030. As autonomous transport modes will significantly decrease supply chain costs, Türkiye needs to be prepared for a mobility transformation that involves technological development, regulation framework and business pilots, as well as the use cases and adaptation of infrastructure to mitigate any business risks.

The Turkish automotive industry is already developing autonomous driving technologies. Ford Trucks has already announced L4 highway tests, while commercial vehicles manufacturer Karsan and software provider ADASTEC have deployed their L4 shuttle bus trial in restricted areas.

As C4IR Türkiye, we would like to summarize how to be a pioneer in technology development by reducing all kinds of risks in the near future and how AVs can be seamlessly integrated into the transport network.

To this end, we address the legal/administrative need and governance gap as a first step towards adopting the Turkish AV ecosystem.

How to accelerate autonomous vehicle testing

A comprehensive framework is required for real-world testing, with extended conditions to intensify testing and accelerate AV technology development. According to our research, the Turkish framework requirement currently relies on four critical factors. We believe providing adequate and reasonable solutions could accelerate AV testing under real and commercial conditions. This is how:

  • Remove the safety drivers: At a point, to enhance commercial pilot tests and maximize system maturity, the full target operational design domains (ODDs) of driverless tests should be defined.
  • National regulations have a purpose,but deployment should embrace broader areas apart from hyper local applications: Turkish automobile standards are very close to European standards due to their harmonization with EU technical legislation, with EU accounting for 74.5% of Türkiye’s automotive industry exports. As such, co-designing a European-oriented approach is also important for Turkish tech developers. Türkiye’s regulatory approach is expected to guide local solutions while working in harmonization with EU regulations.
  • Policy should provide a guide to commercialization: Technological deployment should be compatible with the commercialization environment. As commercial pilots are critical processes to mature the product, arrangements that block any commercial activities should be reconsidered, cleared and softened to enhance the commercial pilots.
  • Infrastructure: Road requirements are critical to commence pilots including high-definition maps, adequate traffic signs and lines, additional facilities on roads to practice commercial activities.

Approaches to autonomous vehicle testing

Although AV regulation applications vary between countries; there are two main distinguishers when it comes to approach:

  • Testing: Taking the plunge and allowing driverless tests.
  • Regulation: Regulation or executive orders that authorize commercial deployments (freight or passenger) for trucks and robo-taxis or buses.

Germany currently has the most advanced and comprehensive legislation regarding L4 autonomous vehicles, while the US states of Arizona and California deliver good examples of commercial deployments.

Singapore mostly focuses on the autonomous bus usage scenarios, and UK follows the regulatory sandbox or code of practice approaches that permit tests under defined conditions. Finally, Israel harmonizes both approaches and paved the way to driverless testing of robo-taxis.

In UK, according to the latest update to the “Code of Practice: automated vehicle trialling”, any level of public tests are possible, if the following three requirements are met: A driver, in or out of the vehicle, controls the car and can intervene any time; the roadworthiness of the vehicle is ensured; and appropriate insurance is in place.

Germany’s approach is to provide a staggered and progressive elaborated solution until internationally harmonized regulation arrives.

The country’s autonomous driving law creates a legal framework for L4 autonomous vehicles to operate regularly across the country, in public road traffic and in certain work areas. The law aims to enable a maximum number of application scenarios, whereas various application scenarios were not strictly regulated beforehand.

In this context, the biggest limitation has been determined that autonomous driving can only take place in a defined operational area. The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure will be evaluating the effects of the law after the end of 2023, particularly in terms of developments in autonomous vehicle driving.

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Meanwhile Israel, by combining both testing and regulation approaches, strives to be a global leader in the field of smart transportation and autonomous technologies, while ensuring that AV commercialization advances its mobility goals.

The Israeli Ministry of Transport and Road Safety (MOT) is investing in the development and testing of autonomous vehicles while focusing on applications of mobility-as-a-service and public transit solutions.

For instance, the Knesset in March 2022 passed legislation that will allow companies to pilot autonomous shared transportation, like taxis, with passengers in the vehicle but without a safety driver on Israeli roads.

As a principle of a “policy should provide a guide to commercialization” approach, the MOT’s consideration in the following two subjects are prioritized actions for further progress:

  • Forge coherent digital infrastructure and mobility system readiness to maximize the societal, environmental and economic benefits of AVs.
  • Guide the development of AV products and business models aligned with its sustainable mobility ecosystem vision.

Framework for AV development in Türkiye

When we analyzed the current stakeholder map for the policy framework and technology development in Türkiye, we came up with a framework that includes the following governmental organizations.

Current responsibilities for sustaining autonomous vehicle technologies in Türkiye. Image: C4IR Türkiye

Responsibilities are widespread and vary between many Turkish authorities, resulting in difficulties to take swift actions. Hence, the first step in the process is to assemble a central government committeefor the establishment and development of autonomous driving regulation.

This centre will evaluate AV technologies from multiple perspectives and will provide a clear and distinct strategy definition for framing test procedures, such as road testing, controlled environment testing and simulation. AV developers are also critical stakeholders of this centre, as business requirements may trigger the need to accelerate regulations.

Türkiye well placed to be leader in global market

There is still room for autonomous technology development, and Turkish players such as Ford Trucks, Karsan And ADASTEC, Anadolu Isuzu and TOGG are motivated to play a key role for accelerating the position of Turkish industry as a leader in the global market, if the testing procedures and infrastructure compatibility for pilot projects are well defined.

Hence it would be helpful to authorize a leading government committee as a facilitator and accelerator to frame the testing procedures based on a national strategy.

Discover

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This would provide a critical opportunity to create a successful approach for AV technology, by avoiding the inherent complexities for pilot testing. It would also facilitate EU compliance of vehicle design features, ODDs, infrastructure, server and data regulations.

In conclusion, the development of autonomous vehicles is another example where public-private collaboration is the ultimate pre-requisite to effectively develop, implement and adopt new technologies – to the benefit of everyone.

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