Would you travel in an automated vehicle?

Published: 04 May 2018

How will Australia’s laws and regulations be affected when a machine, rather than a human, is in control of a car? This is one of the questions the National Transport Commission (NTC) is seeking to answer in developing a regulatory system for automated vehicles in Australia.

“Evidence suggests that automated vehicle technology has the potential to improve safety, efficiency and mobility in our communities,” says NTC Chief Executive, Paul Retter.

“However, there are important questions surrounding safety, insurance, the use of data, as well as how we define a ‘driver’ in the context of an automated vehicle,” says Mr Retter.

“These issues are being addressed by the NTC as part of a comprehensive program of work being undertaken in collaboration with all levels of government to create an end-to-end regulatory system for automated vehicles.”

Mr Retter said that this collaborative effort includes significant input from industry and other key local and international stakeholders.

The NTC will shortly release a regulation impact statement (RIS) for public consultation on a safety assurance regime which aims to ensure that vehicles at all levels of automation are safe as they come to market.

To help stimulate the discussion, the NTC has released a video posing the question: Would you travel in an automated vehicle? The short video highlights some of the most important legal and regulatory questions surrounding the introduction of automated vehicles in Australia.

“During 2018, the NTC will also look at how existing driving laws should be amended to allow for automated vehicles, how motor vehicle injury insurance schemes could be affected and how government will access and use the data generated by these vehicles,” says Mr Retter.

Mr Retter emphasised that the term automated vehicle encapsulates more than just fully driverless cars.

“Manufacturers are progressively introducing automated features, such as braking, acceleration and steering. They still envisage a human driver taking control of the vehicle at some point in the journey or if something goes wrong.

“We aim to have an end-to-end regulatory system in place so that all levels of automated vehicles can operate safely and legally on our roads from 2020.

“Our focus is on ensuring the regulatory system remains flexible enough to accommodate evolving technologies as they come to market while always prioritising public safety,” says Mr Retter.

The NTC’s video can be viewed here.