Australian government sets out driverless car initiatives

Australia’s transport body has said it will remove regulatory barriers to automated vehicles, according to a newly published paper.

The National Transport Commission (NTC) reported that Australian ministers had agreed to a series of reform initiatives over the next two years.

These will bring about more testing and trialling of automated vehicles, as well as increased confidence in the safety of driverless cars.

The government will also seek to provide clarity over insurance coverage in the event of a crash, and develop a “more positive”, performance-based approach to regulating self-driving vehicles.

The reform programme will be phased in, and has been based on the analysis of market trends, according to the NTC. This means that conditionally driverless vehicles will be able to operate ‘safely and legally’ on the roads before 2020, and highly and fully driverless cars from that year onwards.

Initiatives to start in Australia over the next few months include:

  • Developing national guidelines to support trials of automated vehicles
  • Developing a performance-based safety assurance regime for increasingly automated vehicles
  • Removing regulatory barriers in the Australian Road Rules and other transport laws that assume a human driver

Ministers did say the existing policy position, that the human driver remains in full legal control of a vehicle that is partially or conditionally automated, still stands unless a new position is developed and agreed.

The initiatives mark the end of a year-long project that delved into the barriers to automation, in which the government consulted with stakeholders.

NTC CEO Paul Retter said that removing regulatory barriers would maximise the benefits of automated vehicles.

“Inconsistent rules, regulations and application procedures for automated vehicles are potential obstacles to deploying this disruptive technology in the future.

“Our goal is to identify and remove regulatory barriers, and avoid a patchwork of conflicting requirements in different states and territories,” he added.


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