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How to set up trials of automated vehicles in Australia

Learn more about how to set up a trial to test automated vehicle (AV) technology on Australian roads.

How to set up trials of automated vehicles in Australia

How to set up trials of automated vehicles in Australia

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Getting started

You’ll work with relevant state or territory road transport agencies to get approval for your trial. Applications can be made for:

  • trials of any type of automated vehicle technology
  • trials of any size
  • trials of a commercial or non-commercial nature
  • trials across jurisdictional borders.

Vehicles can’t legally operate in highly or fully automated driving mode on public roads in Australia without a permit or exemption. 

Full trial guidelines

There are guidelines for trials in Australia. They focus on flexibility and safety to support innovation. For full details of how to manage your trial once you have approval read: Guidelines for Trials of Automated Vehicles in Australia 2020.

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Steps for setting up a trial

These are the steps you’ll follow to set up your AV trial in Australia. Local laws may vary, but all follow the AV trial guidelines.

Step 1

Do some initial trial planning. This may include developing clear objectives and outcomes for the trial. Consider: 

  • the environment and road conditions where the trial will take place
  • the type of vehicle and technology to be used 
  • the type of trial you’d like to conduct.

Step 2

Engage with the relevant state and territory road transport agency (or agencies ) to seek in-principle support for a trial on public roads.

Step 3

If you need to import a vehicle, apply to the Commonwealth Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications for approval.

The minister (or delegate) may grant concessional approval for import of AV(s) under the Road Vehicle Standards Rules 2019. Approval may be subject to conditions. 

Step 4

With approval, AV(s) may now be imported. This is subject to satisfying import approval conditions, customs duties, quarantine and shipping requirements and relevant taxes.

Step 5

Finalise your trial application with the relevant state or territory road transport agency.

State and territory requirements and the national trial guidelines should inform your application. (If you’re applying for a trial in Victoria, refer to the Victorian trial guidelines too.)

Road transport agencies will assess trial applications and work with you to make any necessary changes.

Step 6 (if required)

Apply to state or territory road transport agencies to register AV(s) for your trial.
 

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Engage with state and territory governments

Contact the road transport agency in the state or territory where the trial will happen.

You’ll need permission to use trial vehicles on public roads. The application process differs for each state and territory.

All states and territories have helped facilitate automated vehicle trials with overseas organisations in recent years.

Learn more about previous trials on the Austroads website.

Local contact information

Follow these links to contact the relevant local agency: 

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Apply to import vehicle(s)

The Australian Government's Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications (DITRDC) ensures all vehicles imported into Australia meet current Australian Design Rules (ADRs).

Where an automated vehicle does not meet applicable ADRs you must apply with DITRDC to receive concessional approval to import the vehicle. This applies to: 

  • some types of automated shuttles
  • used vehicles
  • vehicies that have been modified since they were manufactured 
  • vehicles that aren’t imported under an existing approval. 

A letter of support from the relevant road transport agency support is generally required as part of this approval process. 

If approved by DITRDC, automated vehicles may be imported, subject to meeting:

  • import approval conditions
  • customs duties
  • quarantine and shipping requirements
  • relevant taxes.
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Complete your trial application

Once you have permission to import, continue to develop your application for the trial.

Keep in contact with the state or territory road transport agency as you complete the below steps. You may also work with additional stakeholders, for example your technology or research partners. 

More information

Visit the following websites for more information and resources to help you complete your application.

Trials undertaken in Australia 

The import process

  • The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications website explains more about imports.  

Austrade 

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Meet the trial guidelines

Your application must provide information responding to the Guidelines for Trials of Automated Vehicles in Australia, published jointly by the National Transport Commission and Austroads. These guidelines provide nationally consistent criteria in the following areas:

  • management of trials
  • insurance
  • safety management plans
  • data collection and information sharing.

Trials will differ in technology, scale and risk. So, some criteria may not be relevant to some trials. Trialing organisations must:

  • set out how they have addressed relevant criteria
  • if necessary, explain which criteria are not relevant and why.

If you have questions about the trial guidelines, contact the NTC via enquiries@ntc.gov.au.

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Guidelines for trials of AVs in Australia 2020

The trial guidelines provide a performance-based framework that supports innovation and gives certainty to governments and industry alike.  They set out criteria to address in your application. 
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