Preparing for Automated Vehicles

Australia's transport ministers, through the COAG Transport and Infrastructure Council, have agreed on the strategic priority of preparing for the deployment of automated vehicles and other innovative transport technologies. The Council has agreed to a program of national work, which is being implemented collaboratively by the Australian, state, and territory governments, as well as intergovernmental organisations such as Austroads and the National Transport Commission.

The current work program includes:

Trials of automated vehicles and other innovative technologies are already underway across Australia.

National Policy Framework for Land Transport Technology

In August 2016, the Transport and Infrastructure Council agreed to the National Policy Framework for Land Transport Technology. The Policy Framework outlines a principles-based approach to facilitate the efficient, effective and consistent implementation and uptake of transport technology across Australia.

The Policy Framework outlines the following four roles for government:

  • Policy leadership—providing a clear, nationally coordinated approach across different levels of government, being responsive to changes in the technological environment;
  • Enabling—ensuring that the private sector is able to bring beneficial new technologies to market;
  • Supportive regulatory environment—ensuring that community expectations of safety, security and privacy are appropriately considered in new technology deployments; and
  • Investment—investing in research, development and real-world trials that benefit the entire transport network customer base or provide a sound basis for government decision-making (including collaboration with the private sector).

A copy of the Policy Framework is available on the Transport Infrastructure Council website.

National Transport Technology Action Plan

The Policy Framework is underpinned by a 3-year action plan PDF: 221 KB ReadSpeaker, which outlines national short to medium term priorities, with a particular focus on connected and automated vehicles.

This action plan will be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure it appropriately responds to new and emerging issues. Further information is available by emailing automatedvehicles@infrastructure.gov.au.

Regulatory Reforms for Automated Vehicles

In November 2016, the Transport and Infrastructure Council tasked the National Transport Council (NTC) with leading a number of reforms to the regulation of automated vehicles, particularly in relation to legal and safety issues. This work complements and builds on the principles and actions established in the Policy Framework.

In November 2016, the NTC released a policy paper Regulatory Reforms for Automated Road Vehicles, following a 12-month investigation into potential regulatory barriers and two separate rounds of public consultation.

Subsequently, the Transport and Infrastructure Council has agreed to the following actions:

  • develop national guidelines governing conditions for trials of automated vehicles;
  • develop national enforcement guidelines that clarify regulatory concepts of control and proper control for different levels of driving automation;
  • design and develop a safety assurance regime for automated road 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 entities;
  • review current exemption powers to ensure legislation can support on-road trials;
  • review injury insurance schemes to identify any eligibility barriers for occupants of an automated vehicle, or those involved in a crash with an automated vehicle; and
  • develop options to manage government access to 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.

Further information on the current status of these regulatory reforms is available on the National Transport Commission website.

Austroads Connected and Automated Vehicle Program

Austroads, the peak organisation of Australasian road transport and traffic agencies, is also assisting with the deployment of emerging vehicle technologies through its Connected and Automated Vehicles Program. Austroads' role is to prepare Australia's road authorities for the impacts of automated vehicles on traffic operations.

Austroads is working closely with government and industry stakeholders on issues such as changes to infrastructure design, driver licencing and vehicle registration. Further information can be found on the Austroads website.

Trials of Connected and Automated Vehicles

Trials are planned or underway in a number of states and territories. A number of the trials include automated vehicles operating on open, public roads, and will help to inform future approaches to policy, regulation, investment and operations. A list of the trials currently underway is available from Austroads.

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Last Updated: 18 May, 2017