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Israel: Ministry of Transport Issues Regulations on Autonomous Vehicle Testing

(Jan. 29, 2019) On May 31, 2018, Israel’s Ministry of Transport issued the Transportation (Amendment No. 12) Regulations, which authorize the National Traffic Controller to exempt vehicle operators conducting experiments in new technologies from requirements under the Transportation Regulations. Such exemptions may be obtained following consultation with the licensing authority and a police officer, and an evaluation of the experiment’s possible impact on traffic safety, traffic flow, and the ability of authorities to respond to emergencies. (Transportation (Amendment No. 12) Regulations, 5778-2018, KOVETZ HATAKANOT (KT, Subsidiary Legislation) 5778, No. 8011, p. 2067 (the Amendment), amending Transportation Regulations, 5761-1961, KT 5761, No. 1128, p. 1425, as amended.)

The Amendment follows the Ministry’s adoption of a directive on November 1, 2017, to regulate the licensing of experiments in new technologies. (Ministry of Transport, Approval of Experiments in Vehicles for Research and Development, Automated Technological Systems § 1(1) (Directive No. H-02-2017, Nov. 1, 2017), Ministry of Transport Licensing Department website (click on H-02-2017 PDF icon) (in Hebrew).)

The Directive defines “new technologies” as “[v]ehicle systems and features to be installed in vehicles that may interfere with or influence vehicle systems and performance with respect to control, safety, fuel consumption and air pollution[,] including a form of connection to the communication interfaces of the vehicles.” (Id. § 4(1).)

A license to conduct an experiment in an autonomous vehicle in Israel, accordingly, includes examination of companies’ applications by a professional committee established for this purpose by the Ministry.

Media reports indicate that authorization for experimenting with autonomous cars has been granted to the Israeli company Mobileye and to the Russian company Yandex. (Dubi Ben Gedalia, View: Mobileye Automated Vehicle at a Test Drive in Jerusalem, GLOBES (May 17, 2018); Meir Urbach, Yandex Receives Approval to Conduct Autonomous Vehicle Experimentation in Israel, CALCALIST (Dec. 25, 2018) (both in Hebrew).)