Italy takes first steps with self-driving plans

August 15, 2018 06:01 CET

TURIN — Italy passed its first law regulating tests of autonomous vehicles Feb. 28. Tests will be permitted on “specific roads,” provided the road operator authorizes it. In addition, a “supervisor” will have to be able to take back control of the car at any time. The law defines “automated-drive vehicle” as a car that can drive itself “on predetermined roads and certain external conditions.”

Automakers or research centers will have to declare that “the technologies under test are mature with reference to the roads for which the authorization is required.” The vehicle will have to be homologated in its “normal” version beforehand. Tests have to be authorized by Italy’s Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport.

After the new rules were approved, the city of Turin, the hometown of Fiat, signed a memorandum of understanding with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, General Motors’ Turin engine r&d center, Volkswagen Group’s Italdesign design and engineering unit, local universities, telecoms and an insurance company to start the tests of Level 3 autonomous cars.

Paola Pisano, a member of the Turin City Council, said the memorandum partners could file an application as early as the summer. Pisano said she hopes tests could start by the end of this year.

FCA is also cooperating in the U.S. with Waymo, the autonomous-driving company spun off by Google. FCA has an agreement to supply up to 62,000 Chrysler Pacifica minivans to Waymo for its autonomous fleet. Some were showcased June 1 in Balocco, Italy, on an FCA proving ground.

So far, few tests had been performed in Italy. The main actor has been VisLab, a spinoff from Parma University that is now part of Ambarella, a Nasdaq-listed company based in California. VisLab, which specializes in computer vision and intelligent automotive control systems, mainly has been conducting tests in its hometown of Parma, thanks to a local authorization.


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You can reach Andrea Malan at

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