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LCQ21: Developing smart mobility
     ​Following is a question by the Hon Elizabeth Quat and a written reply by the Secretary for Transport and Logistics, Mr Lam Sai-hung, in the Legislative Council today (November 16):


     On developing smart mobility, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) given that Hong Kong is developing autonomous driving systems (ADSs), and it is learnt that to ensure ADSs' road safety, high-definition (HD) maps are one of the necessary complementary technologies, whether the Government has drawn up a timetable for developing HD maps for all roads in Hong Kong; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(2) given that since August this year, legislation on the management of intelligent connected vehicles (ICVs) has been implemented in the Shenzhen Municipality to provide, for the first time, laws and regulations on market access and registration of products, road safety, accident disposal and liability, etc. in respect of ICVs to which ADSs are applicable, whether the Government will, by drawing reference from the experience of the Shenzhen Municipality, enact similar laws and regulations, and relax the road trial requirements for ADSs as soon as possible; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(3) how the Government will enable mutual integration with the Mainland (especially the Mainland cities in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area) in respect of the infrastructure for and the laws and regulations on ADSs and smart motorways;

(4) whether it will make use of the Common Spatial Data Infrastructure to identify land for constructing additional quick charging stations for electric vehicles (EVs) and install sensors for charging stations, so as to facilitate vehicle owners to search online the locations of charging stations; if so, of the details and timetable; if not, the reasons for that;

(5) how the Government will (i) enhance smart transport infrastructure and (ii) step up the opening of relevant data (e.g. providing the locations and numbers of public EV charging stations and on-street car parking spaces), so as to bring convenience to motorists; and

(6) how the Government will promote a wider use of electronic payment systems among taxi drivers, so as to reduce traffic congestion caused at the time when taxi passengers are making payments?



     After consulting the Development Bureau, the Innovation, Technology and Industry Bureau, and the Environment and Ecology Bureau/Environmental Protection Department (EPD), my consolidated reply to the question raised by the Hon Elizabeth Quat is as follows:
(1) to (3) Autonomous vehicle (AV) technologies have the promising advantages of enhancing road safety by eliminating human errors and optimising the use of limited road space. Various kinds of road testing are being conducted worldwide. The Hong Kong Smart City Blueprint and the Smart Mobility Roadmap for Hong Kong published by the Government in December 2017 and July 2019 respectively promulgated, among others, the facilitation of AV trials in Hong Kong. In the Hong Kong Smart City Blueprint 2.0 published in December 2020, one of the smart mobility initiatives is to facilitate the technology advancement and industry development in Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) and AVs with a vision of realising AV trials and use on public roads in Hong Kong. Since 2017, the Transport Department (TD) has been issuing movement permits for the purposes of AV trials. To facilitate a wider trial of AVs by the industry and to allow AVs for specific uses, the Transport and Logistics Bureau and the TD are now taking forward the legislative amendments. Having consulted the Panel on Transport of the Legislative Council (LegCo) on the proposed regulatory framework in July 2022, we plan to submit a Bill on the establishment of the new regulatory framework to the LegCo by end-2022.
     The new regulatory framework will allow a suitable degree of flexibility to cope with the fast-changing technology, and cover the licensing regime, liabilities and penalties in relation to the use of AVs. We also need to allow greater flexibility in the trial and use of AVs so that they will not be hindered by the technical incompatibilities between the existing legal provisions and the development of technology and operation modes of AVs. In this connection, under the new regulatory framework, we propose empowering the Commissioner for Transport and the Secretary for Transport and Logistics to disapply certain legal provisions in certain trials and use of AVs in the circumstances specified by law.
     When making a new legislative proposal for AVs, the Government has taken into consideration the developments on the Mainland and in other regions. The national standard on Taxonomy of Driving Automation for Vehicles (GB/T 40429-2021) promulgated by the State Administration for Market Regulation and the Standardisation Administration of the People's Republic of China in August 2021 has come into effect since March 1, 2022. Such a standard is equivalent to the J3016 standard adopted by the SAE International, and our new regulatory framework will be established with reference to both the national and international standards. The TD will also draw on the experience of the Mainland and other regions when compiling the code of practice for AVs under the new regulatory framework. In fact, the TD has all along been welcoming the conduct of AV trials jointly with the Mainland organisations. When approving the applications for AV trials, the TD will take into account the experience and performances of such AVs in the trials conducted outside Hong Kong, including the Mainland. Where the trials of AVs in the Mainland are proven successful, they will facilitate the TD in expediting the approval process of their applications for trials in Hong Kong.

     In facilitating the trials and use of AVs, there is also a need to develop the V2X technology and the required infrastructure in parallel. Through real-time information sharing in the V2X system, appropriate reports and warnings are instantly generated to alert road users and AV systems, thus improving road safety and enhancing transport efficiency. The Government has all along been supporting and funding relevant scientific research projects in a proactive manner.

     For example, the Innovation and Technology (I&T) Fund under the Innovation and Technology Commission provides funding for various I&T projects undertaken by organisations in Hong Kong, including the technical study and field trial projects relating to the V2X system launched by the Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute (ASTRI). The trial project was conducted on a section of carriageway, about 14 kilometres long, between the Hong Kong Science Park and Sha Tin Town Centre along the Shing Mun River in Sha Tin and via Tai Chung Kiu Road, with V2X technology tests to be carried out on the round route. With the support of the Smart Traffic Fund under the TD, the ASTRI will take forward the second phase of V2X public road tests to verify the application of advanced V2X technology, thereby enhancing mobility competitiveness and road safety in Hong Kong. In addition, the ASTRI signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Shenzhen SmartCity Technology Development Group (Shenzhen SmartCity) on September 27, 2022 for the collaboration on the release of a connectivity roadmap in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (Greater Bay Area) to further expedite the integration of the Greater Bay Area. The Government will keep in view the study outcome of the ASTRI and Shenzhen SmartCity with a view to accommodating and further facilitating autonomous driving and V2X connectivity in the Greater Bay Area.
     Currently, the production and updating standards for high definition (HD) maps are still in the research and development stage worldwide. HD maps are one of the supporting features of the autonomous driving system (ADS). The technical requirements of HD maps are different from the prevailing navigation maps for manual driving. The former requires provision of information such as the road environment, traffic signals and directions of the roads ahead well in advance, so as to enable the ADS onboard to calculate the response required and ensure driving safety. Such HD maps supporting the ADSs require a high degree of precision. Their development also needs to be matched with the development of the intelligence systems of vehicles and V2X technologies (i.e. the communication amongst vehicles and vehicles with other devices or devices on the road). As such, the Lands Department and TD will continue to liaise with the relevant innovation and technology as well as mapping industries. Depending on the direction and pace of the development of autonomous driving technology in Hong Kong, the two departments will collaborate with relevant departments and the industries to consider how best to provide support on the mapping aspect with reference to the prevailing technical standards by then.

     In the long run, the TD commenced the Traffic and Transport Strategy Study (TTSS) in December 2021, under which one of the major study directions is to optimise the use of limited road space in Hong Kong with smart transport technologies and big data analysis, while another direction is to actively integrate into the development of the Greater Bay Area to facilitate the collaboration of the stakeholders there through the TTSS. The TD plans to make preliminary recommendations on the TTSS from the second half of 2023, and take forward various pilot schemes in 2024, including those of AV trials, with a view to promulgating a Transport Strategy Blueprint in 2025 aiming at building a transport system that is reliable, safe, smart, environmentally friendly and highly efficient.
(4) The EPD has made use of the Common Spatial Data Infrastructure to identify suitable sites such as vacant petrol filling stations and short term tenancy sites, and is exploring the feasibility of granting these sites by way of short term tenancies for establishing electric vehicle (EV) quick charging stations. We expect to commence the open tender exercise in the second half of 2023. The EPD has also launched the "EV-Charging Easy" mobile application to provide information on locations and real-time availabilities of EV public chargers, equipping EV drivers with handy information about the real-time usage of public chargers. Information on future quick charging stations will also be uploaded to this mobile application.
(5) The TD has been actively promoting the building of smart transport infrastructure. Upon gradual commissioning of such smart transport infrastructure projects as traffic detectors along strategic routes and major roads, new generation on-street parking meters (including the "HKeMeter" mobile app which provides real-time parking vacancy information), pilot projects of real-time adaptive traffic signal systems, and Automated Parking Systems, the Government will continue to enhance the smart transport infrastructure. The efforts include the introduction of the "HKeToll", the Free-Flow Tolling System at all government-tolled tunnels and Tsing Sha Control Area, the installation of sensors at suitable non-metered on-street parking spaces across the territory, the trial of real-time adaptive traffic signal systems covering multiple linked signalised junctions in Tung Chung town centre, and the gradual implementation of real-time adaptive traffic signal systems at all suitable unlinked signalised junctions in Hong Kong. In the long run, the TD will apply the relevant experience of implementing the real-time adaptive traffic signal system to develop a smart traffic management system, so as to assist the TD in keeping abreast of the general real-time traffic information for traffic management.
     In addition, the TD actively promotes data sharing through "HKeMobility" mobile app and the Government Public Sector Information (PSI) Portal "data.gov.hk", providing various kinds of traffic and transport information and data with over 30 datasets in the PSI Portal. Through these platforms, the public and organisations can access the traffic snapshot images captured by all traffic detectors and estimated time of arrival information on all regular franchised bus routes, Light Rail trains, MTR buses, green minibuses and trains running on the five MTR lines (the Airport Express, Tung Chung Line, Tseung Kwan O Line, Tuen Ma Line and East Rail line). Moreover, drivers can access the real-time parking vacancy information on about 82 500 off-street parking spaces in total through these platforms. The TD will continue to develop and share other useful information.
     "HKeMobility" mobile app also utilises the data of the EPD to provide information on the locations of EV public chargers, including the real-time vacancy of about 450 chargers, thereby enabling EV drivers to find available chargers effectively in real time.
(6) The Government has been encouraging the taxi trade to introduce different electronic payment systems to allow passengers to pay taxi fares via different means. Currently, some taxi drivers or operators already accept fare payments via electronic payment means such as Octopus and QR code. With the increasing popularity of smart phones and mobile applications, some taxi-hailing applications also accept electronic payment means such as credit cards and mobile wallets. The TD will continue to appeal to the taxi trade to offer electronic payment options through various channels, including taxi trade conferences and Taxi Newsletter, with a view to speeding up the payment process and giving passengers more choices. We are also exploring the introduction of a taxi fleet management regime which includes requiring all fleet taxis to provide electronic payment options for passengers.
Ends/Wednesday, November 16, 2022
Issued at HKT 15:45
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