Last modified on September 28, 2023

Worldwide level

There is not a harmonised regulatory framework applicable Worldwide. In Europe the regulatory framework is defined by EU directives, regulations and standards. However, in other countries it is common to find other frameworks such as the self-certification scheme or their own specific regulatory framework. In some cases, their own specific regulatory framework use UNECE regulation requirements as a base. In the following chapter, the methodology used in some relevant countries is presented.


The United Nations Economic Commission of Europe (UNECE) was established in 1947 to encourage economic integration and cooperation among its member countries.  It is one of the five United Nations regional commissions, administered by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The UNECE Sustainable Transport Division works to facilitate the international movement of persons and goods by inland transport modes. It aims to improve competitiveness, safety, energy efficiency and security in the transport sector.

The Inland Transport Committee (ITC) is the highest policy-making body of the UNECE in the field of transport. Together with its subsidiary bodies, the ITC has provided a pan-European inter-governmental forum, where UNECE member countries come together to discuss tools for economic cooperation and negotiate and adopt international legal instruments on inland transport.

To deal with the transport issues, the ITC is assisted by a number of Subsidiary Bodies.

  • WP 1: The UNECE pioneered road safety activities in the United Nations system with the establishment of an Ad Hoc Working Group on the prevention of road accidents in 1950. In 1988, the Working Party on Road Traffic Safety (WP.1), an intergovernmental body, was established. The Working Party changed its name to “Global Forum for Road Traffic Safety (WP.1)” in 2017. Global Forum for Road Traffic Safety (WP.1) focuses on improving road safety and its primary function is to serve as guardian of the United Nations legal instruments aimed at harmonizing traffic rules.
  • WP29: The WP.29 is assisted in its work by six specialized subsidiary groups known as Working Parties (Groupe de Rapporteurs GR) covering specific regulatory areas of vehicles. Their aim is to incorporate into its regulatory framework the technological innovations of vehicles to make them safer and more environmentally sound.
  • WP29  Working  Parties
    • GRBP: Former GRB: conducts research and analysis to develop noise requirements for vehicles and, since the dissolution of the GRRF, it includes all the regulation related to tyres. It is comprised of more than 70 experts and they usually convene twice a year.
    • GRE: This body prepares regulatory proposals on active safety, specifically regarding vehicle Lighting and Light-Signalling. GRE convenes officially twice a year and entrusts informal groups comprised of more than 80 experts with specific problems that need to be solved urgently or that require special expertise.
    • GRPE: This group of experts comprised of more than 120 experts conducts research and analysis to develop emission and energy requirements for vehicles. It officially convenes twice a year.
    • GRSG: This group of experts conducts research and analysis to develop general safety requirements for vehicles, in particular buses and coaches.  GRSG convenes officially twice a year and entrusts informal groups of more than 100 experts with specific subjects that need to be considered urgently or that require special expertise.
    • GRSP: This group of experts conducts research and analysis to develop passive safety requirements for vehicles. GRSP convenes officially twice a year and entrusts informal groups of more than 80 experts with specific problems that need to be solved urgently or that require special expertise.
    • GRVA: At its February 2018 session, the ITC acknowledged the importance of WP.29 activities related to automated, autonomous and connected vehicles and requested WP.29 to consider establishing a dedicated subsidiary Working Party. Following this request, WP.29, at its June 2018 session, decided to convert the Working Party on Brakes and Running Gear (GRRF) into a new Working Party on Automated/Autonomous and Connected Vehicles (GRVA).
  •  GRVA  Informal  Working  Groups
    • Automatic Emergency Braking and Lane Departure Warning Systems (AEBS/LDW). The informal group focuses on systems for vehicles of categories M1 and N1 and addresses the following issues: defines AEBS requirements for moving and stationary obstacles, and defines AEBS requirements for pedestrian detection
    • Modular Vehicle Combinations (MVC). Vehicle combinations according to EMS system can already be accepted for international traffic, however different national requirements makes that difficult. The aim of the Informal Working Group is to set a harmonized technical level so that countries that want to allow EMS vehicles can rely on harmonized technical requirements in the various regulation and not making national requirements.
    • Validation Methods for Automated Driving (VMAD). The IWG develops assessment methods, including scenario’s, to validate the safety of automated systems, based on a multi pillar approach including auditing, simulation, virtual testing, test track testing, real world testing; and do this in line with the following principles/elements d. assessment method/test for Object Event Detection and Response and f. Validation for System Safety (as noted in document ECE/TRANS/WP29/2019/34).
    • Event Data Recorder and Data Storage System for Automated Driving (EDR/DSSAD). The IWG addresses the following issues: defines the scope and specific objectives of and differences between EDR and DSSAD, and defines EDR and DSSAD requirements.
    • Functional Requirements for Automated and Autonomous Vehicles (FRAV). The Informal Working Group develops functional (performance) requirements for automated/autonomous vehicles, in particular, the combination of the different functions for driving: longitudinal control (acceleration, braking and road speed), lateral control (lane discipline), environment monitoring (headway, side, rear), minimum risk maneuver, transition demand, HMI (internal and external) and driver monitoring. This work item should also cover the requirements for Functional Safety. Also, should do this in line with the following principles/elements a. System safety, b. Failsafe Response, c. HMI / Operator information d. OEDR (Functional Requirements) described in document ECE/TRAN/WP29/2019/34.
    • Cyber Security and (Over-the-Air) Software-Updates. The Informal Working Group addresses Cyber Security and (Over-the-Air) Software-Update issues, relevant for the automotive industry (Conventional and Automated / Autonomous vehicles), Address Data protection issues, and develops relevant recommendations, regulations, provisions or documentation for both the 1998 Agreement and the 1958 Agreement and finally, submit its outcome to GRVA. The latest outcomes from this IWG are:
      • UN Regulation No. 155 on Cybersecurity
      • UN Regulation No.156 on Software Updates
    • Advanced Driver Assistant System (ADAS). The Informal Working Group is developing a new UN Regulation, taking relevant provisions out of UN Regulation No.79 and introducing them in a new UN Regulation on Advanced Driver Assistant System.
    • Special Interest Group (SIG) on UN Regulation No. 157. The Informal Working Group is developing the UN Regulation 157 that aims to go further in automated driving, SAE level 3, where the lateral and longitudinal movement of the vehicle is controled for extended periods without driver command. 
    • GRVA Sessions Summaries
  • WP.29  Informal  Working  Groups
    • Database for the Exchange of Type Approval (DETA). The Informal Working Group develops the possibility of a database for the exchange of Type approvals (DETA) between the contracting parties of the 1958 agreement and the UNECE secretariat based on the decision made by WP.29 in the 142nd session, develops and situates a database-server based on the feasibility study (WP.29-139-08) and the experience of the data exchange in the EU (European-Type-Approval-Exchange-System, ETAES) and other experiences of the contracting parties. Finally, fosters world-wide participation in its activities by encouraging co-operation and collaboration.
    • International Vehicle Type Approva system (IWVTA). The objective of the informal group is to assist the World Forum for the Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations (WP.29) in considering actions on the future direction for the harmonization of vehicle regulations under the 1958 Agreement. This future direction should aim at fostering the participation of more countries and regional economic integration organizations in the activities of the World Forum and to increase the number of Contracting Parties to the Agreement, by improving its functioning and reliability, and thus ensuring that it remains the key international framework for the harmonization of technical regulations in the automotive sector.
    • Periodical Technical Inspections (PTI). The informal Working Group was created to provide a proper preparation of the proposals on development of the 1997 Vienna agreement provisions and align it with national legislations of the Contracting Parties, as its elements might not be covered by the work of the current existing in frame of WP.29 subsidiary GRs. Furthermore, such an IWG allows PTI experts to participate, as usually they are not well represented, in any of the groups, dealing with type-approval issues. In addition, IWG provides a platform for discussions on PTI, which results in a consensus on possible amendments to existing rules and on the envisaged new rules would smooth the decision-making process within WP.29 and AC.4.
    • Enforcement Working Group (EWG). Auto industry consists of global manufacturers and suppliers. Normally, safety problems in vehicles or equipment have ramifications across national boundaries, for this reason national governments have a wide range of enforcement programs: type approval compliance; self‐certification and compliance testing; defects investigations, etc. Cooperation between vehicle safety agencies has until now been limited and bilateral. This Working group was created to foster communication between countries.
    • Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS). In response to the growing interest and application of new technologies, as well as recognizing the amendment of the 1968 Vienna Convention, the IWG on ITS monitor and report to WP.29 activities regarding traffic laws, intelligent and connected transportation systems (including intermodal transport), telecommunications, infrastructure planning, Mobility as a Service (MaaS) and similar fields adjacent to the deployment of vehicles equipped with Automated Driving Systems.rIWG on ITS, while keeping in mind establishment of internationally harmonized technical regulations in the future, discusses relevant issues for the practical application of this technology and, where appropriate, to consider administrative legal and social aspects.

The Vienna Convention is an international treaty designed to facilitate international road traffic and enhance road safety. It sets minimum standards that shall be recognized by all the Contracting Parties for international traffic: common principles for traffic rules, distinguishing sign of the state of registration, recognition of the technical conditions for vehicles, recognition of driving licenses.

In the Convention on Road Traffic done in Vienna in 1968 it was established that every driver shall at all times be able to control his vehicle or to guide his animals, which was an impediment for the development of autonomous driving technologies and prevented autonomous vehicles being driven on the roads. In this context, on March 2016,  the 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic was amended to allow the international traffic of partially automated vehicles.

  • 1949 and 1968 Conventions on Road Traffic
  • Geneva Convention. In 1958 the United Nations Economic Commission from Europe, in Geneva, established an integrated global system for the mutual recognition of vehicle-related product and subsystem approvals. These regulations are accepted by all signatories to the 1958 Agreement (all the countries from the European Union and some others not taking part in the EU) that have adopted each particular regulation within their respective regulatory systems.

Guidelines and Proposals

Proposal for the Future Certification of Automated/Autonomous Driving Systems (OICA): ECE/TRANS/WP.29/GRVA/2019/13

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