driverless car

Norway opens its roads to driverless cars in 2017

Self-driving vehicles are set to hit the roads of Norway after the country's government announced that it aims to pass a law in spring 2017 to allow autonomous testing.

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 Google, Uber and Ford.

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 rollout 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.

In October, Singapore signed an agreement to start testing self-driving buses on its streets in order to deal with the challenges posed by its limited land and labour. 

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