About Nesta

Nesta is an innovation foundation. For us, innovation means turning bold ideas into reality and changing lives for the better. We use our expertise, skills and funding in areas where there are big challenges facing society.

Use case: cross-border testbed to test connected and autonomous vehicle (CAV) regulation

In April 2019, France, Germany and Luxembourg opened the cross-border testbed for autonomous vehicles. The environment involves a 206 km circuit between Schengen, Saarbrücken and Metz, allowing for a wide range of digital technologies to be tested for CAVs under real-life, cross-border conditions. It is backed by partners from industry and regulation in the EU and the respective countries.

The goal of the real-world testbed from a regulatory perspective is to:

  • Facilitate a joint exchange of experience based on experiments, results of industry and academia, especially regarding judicial and technical issues encountered during testing.
  • Identify challenges related to traffic management and safety impacts, interactions with infrastructure and the generation, processing, storage, dissemination and exploitation of data for CAVs.

Key success factors and lessons

  • Coordinating with other countries will save costs and increase benefits: Large-scale, real-world testbeds are costly and complex. In the case of the highly-integrated border system facilitated by the EU, sharing knowledge, risk, and costs is highly beneficial for all stakeholders involved. Not only does it make the experimentation cheaper (and thereby perhaps easier to accept from a tax payer’s point of view), it also facilitates integrated thinking in an integrated traffic system.
  • Organised process to consolidate objectives and aims – but based on the regulatory perspective: The real-world testbed was initiated by public authorities. The aims, priorities and thematic test areas were established by national, federal, regional and local authorities in the participating countries. It was later subjected to scrutiny and challenge by industry and academia to establish a consolidated set of testbed priorities.
  • Real-world testing provides concrete use cases for analysis: The regulatory bodies which initiated this real-world testbed recognised the opportunity to explore the approach to regulating CAVs in a less abstract manner through a real-world testbed. Some aspects of introducing disruptive technologies are challenging to imagine through scenarios and conversations, so seeing AVs ‘in action’ can bring these issues to the surface at an earlier stage, enabling a more appropriate regulatory response.
  • Maximising learning by designing a multipurpose testbed: The Digital Motorways testbed does not simply consist of a strip of road; it encompasses different categories of road, from motorways to more rural settings. This takes into consideration the variety of contexts where CAVs may be used and highlights multiple challenges that may occur from different use cases.