Roads / Technology / Automated vehicles in Australia

The NTC is delivering a roadmap of reform to prepare Australia for more automated road vehicles.

Automated vehicles in Australia

Automated vehicles offer the possibility of fundamentally changing transport and society by improving road safety, mobility, freight productivity and by reducing road congestion.

To unlock these benefits, Australian governments recognise that we need a nationally consistent regulatory framework that embraces innovation and ensures automated vehicles are safe.

In November 2016, Australian transport ministers agreed to a phased reform program so that conditionally automated vehicles can operate safely and legally on our roads before 2020, and highly and fully automated vehicles from 2020.

The NTC is charged with delivering this roadmap of reform. A phased approach will ensure that the reform agenda remains sufficiently flexible to address evolving technologies and market developments.

Watch our video: Would you travel in an automated vehicle?

Take a look at the work the NTC is doing in conjunction with government, industry and the community to answer important questions about automated vehicles, and to develop an end-to-end regulatory framework that will facilitate the safe, commercial deployment of these technologies onto Australian roads.


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NTC’s completed work to date

November 2015

The Transport and Infrastructure Council asked us to identify whether there are any regulatory barriers associated with the introduction of more automated road and rail vehicles in Australia.

February 2016

Issues paper released for consultation: Regulatory barriers to more automated road and rail vehicles. We received 32 submissions from government agencies, police and industry.

May 2016

Discussion paper released for consultation: Regulatory options for automated vehicles. We received 50 submissions from government agencies, police, vehicle manufacturers, technology providers, insurers, motoring clubs, law societies, researchers and the Australian Driverless Vehicle Initiative (ADVI).

We identified there are no regulatory barriers to automated trains and that the focus of ongoing work should be on automated road vehicles.

November 2016

Transport ministers approved the recommendations outlined in our policy paper, Regulatory reforms for automated road vehicles.

The release of the policy paper concluded a one year project to research the regulatory barriers and develop recommendations to support future reform and created a series of actions to develop the detail of the reform.

The launch of the discussion paper, National guidelines for automated vehicle trials, signifies the start of phase one of our roadmap of reform

May 2017

The Guidelines for trials of automated vehicles in Australia and accompanying policy paper were released following approval by transport ministers. The guidelines will be reviewed every two years.

June 2017

Consultation on the discussion paper Regulatory options to assure automated vehicle safety in Australia closed on Friday, 28 July 2017. This paper assesses regulatory options against proposed assessment criteria and canvasses issues relating to the role of government, the evaluation and validation of safety, institutional arrangements, road access and compliance.

October 2017

The NTC consulted on the discussion paper Changing driving laws to support automated vehicles which seeks to clarify how current driver and driving laws apply to automated vehicles and who would be legally responsible for their operation. Consultation closed on Friday, 24 November 2017. Please visit the project page for more information. 

November 2017

The national enforcement guidelines for automated vehicles and accompanying policy paper were released following approval by transport ministers. The guidelines will be reviewed after amendments to the driving laws to recognise automated driving system entities.

Transport ministers approved the recommendations outlined in our policy paper, Assuring the safety of automated vehicles. In particular, transport ministers approved the development of a safety assurance system for automated road vehicles based on mandatory self-certification in the interim period. 

May 2018

Release of the Safety Assurance for Automated Driving Systems Consultation Regulation Impact Statement (RIS). The RIS details the legislative options to underpin the safety assurance system to support the safe, commercial deployment and operation of automated vehicles at all levels of automation. Submissions closed 9 July 2018.

At the Transport and Infrastructure Council meeting, ministers agreed to a uniform approach across all states and territories to ensure there is always a legal entity in charge of driving when an automated driving system is engaged. This is set out in the NTC Policy Paper Changing driving laws to support automated vehicles.


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Roadmap of reform – Current projects

We are implementing our roadmap of reform in phases to ensure we can prioritise the solutions based on when different levels of automation are likely to be commercially deployed. 

Project Purpose Delivery date Current status Outcome
Automated vehicle trial guidelines Develop national guidelines governing conditions for trials of automated vehicles. May 2017 Completed

Support trials at all levels of automation.
Ensure consistent trial conditions nationally.
Support cross-border trials.

Clarifying control of automated vehicles Develop national enforcement guidelines that clarify regulatory concepts of control and proper control for different levels of driving automation. November 2017 Completed Consistent application of law across jurisdictions.
Safety assurance system for automated vehicles Design and develop a safety assurance regime for automated road vehicles. November 2018 Analysing options Support safe commercial deployment of vehicles at all levels of automation.
Changing driving laws to support automated vehicles Develop legislative reform options to clarify the application of current driver and driving laws to automated vehicles, and to establish legal obligations for automated driving system (ADS) entities. May 2018 Analysing options Legal obligations of drivers support all levels of automation.
Motor accident injury insurance and automated vehicles

Support jurisdictions in reviewing injury insurance schemes to identify any eligibility barriers for occupants of an automated vehicle, or those involved in a crash with an automated vehicle.

 May 2019 Analysing issues

Injury insurance schemes support all levels of automation.

Regulating government access to C-ITS and automated vehicle data

Develop options to manage government access to C-ITS and automated vehicle data that balances road safety and network efficiency outcomes and efficient enforcement of traffic laws with sufficient privacy protections for automated vehicle users.

May 2019 Analysing issues

Ensure privacy risks relating to government access (collection and use) of information generated by C-ITS and automated vehicle technology are appropriately addressed.

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Other Australian government work

Our work complements other government work preparing Australia for automated vehicles, including:

  • The Commonwealth’s Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities who is leading the national transport technology strategy, including addressing implications on cybersecurity, and keeping Australia’s vehicle design rules up to date with international standards as they relate to automated vehicles. 
  • State and territory governments who are working on trials of these vehicles under their respective laws and regulations.
  • Austroads who are exploring  the impacts of connected and automated vehicles on traffic operations such as road infrastructure.

Together, we are working towards creating an end to end regulatory system that will allow for the safe, commercial deployment of automated vehicles in Australia from 2020.


Trials and demonstrations

For more information about automated vehicle trials and demonstrations taking place across Australia, visit the Austroads website.

Useful links

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Last Updated: 7/9/2018