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Submissions for NTC Discussion Paper - Clarifying control of automated vehicles - April 2017

Tim Connors

24 May 2017

1. Do you agree with the assumptions and objectives underpinning the NTC's work to develop national enforcement guidelines? If not, what other assumptions or objectives should be considered?

Mostly, except that as I detail in question 4 below, there should be shared responsibility between the human operator (the person who made the choice to operate an automated vehicle) and the automated driving system entity.

2. Do you agree that national enforcement guidelines should clarify issues of control and proper control based on SAE International Standard J3016 Levels of Driving Automation? If not, what other approach should be considered?

Yes.

3. For the purposes of enforcing proper control, is there value in grouping levels of driving automation according to whether vehicles are capable of automated operation?

There is value, but there needs to be detection ability and enforcement of a vehicle operator being as alert as the driving-mode requires.

4. Do you agree that the human driver should remain in control of a vehicle with partial or conditional automation, and that the automated driving system should be in control of a vehicle operating at high or full automation? If not, why?

I do not agree that highly automated driving systems should be deemed fully in control of a vehicle, yet.

There is no indication that automated vehicle system designers are considering ways for a third party to indicate a vehicle needs to stop. If there is no ability for an external road user to signal an automated vehicle to stop (eg, when the automated vehicle has caused a collision or been involved in an incident but its automated systems haven't detected this), then control should not be relinquished from a human driver who can at least hear someone shouting "stop!". As such, with control remaining in the human driver's hands, there must be systems to detect the human is alert to the need to stop the vehicle when required.

Furthermore, the vehicle operator may have made intentional modifications to the design of the vehicle that render it no longer a vehicle safe to be used on a public road, or may have chosen to drive a poorer quality automated vehicle with known safety failure modes. A human driver ultimately needs to responsible for the choices they make - including buying a car with a particular tradeoff made in the design of the automated system. If they buy a model of automated vehicle with, for example, a known reputation for hitting cyclists, then that operator should not be allowed to delegate full responsibility to what is likely an offshore manufacturing company with tiny profit margins.

As such, I believe the human operator should share responsibility with the automated driving system entity (the latter to ensure the manufacturer incentives are there for the systems to be made as safe as possible).

5. In the event that the automated driving system is determined to be in control of a vehicle operating with conditional automation, should road traffic laws introduce obligations on the human driver as supervisor of the automated driving system?

Yes.

6. Do you agree with the suggested indicators of proper control for each level of driving automation (outlined in Table 2 on page 34 of this paper)? Are there any other indicators that should be included in the guidelines?

No. "Not have closed eyes or show signs of drowsiness" should, for the time being, be modified to "Not looking out of the front or side windows when travelling forward, or back and side windows when travelling backwards, and showing no signs of drowsiness". It is of no use the vehicle operator looking into a book on their lap when they hit a vulnerable road user and the system does not detect this and so does not stop.

7. Should special consideration be given to automated parking functions that are partially automated and can only operate without the driver holding the steering wheel?

Yes, so long as the emergency override had a failsafe system itself, where if the vehicle loses contact with the override button, which must be in the operator's hand (effectively, a dead-man switch), then it immediately stops.

8. Should the national enforcement guidelines also clarify the application of due care and attention offences to automated vehicles? If so, what behaviours usually penalised under these offences require clarification when applied to automated vehicles?

Yes.

9. Do you agree that the guidelines should not apply the proper control test to the automated driving system until the automated driving system and automated driving system entity are recognised in legislation? If not, what alternative approach should be considered?

Yes.

10. Do you agree that the guidelines should only specify enforcement agency interaction with automated vehicles once the technology capability of automated vehicles is more developed and enforcement practices implemented in overseas jurisdictions? If not, what alternative approach should be considered?

Yes.

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