Automated vehicle regulation reform roadmap released

Transport commission recommends phased reform to facilitate automated vehicle trials

Automated vehicle regulation reform roadmap released
Paul Retter wants to remove regulatory barriers.


Australian transport ministers have agreed to certain existing policy positions and a series of reform initiatives over the next two years to support testing and trialling of more automated vehicles and prepare for their safe deployment on public roads in the future.

The ministers have also reaffirmed the validity of existing rules that the human driver will remain in full legal control of a vehicle that is partially or conditionally automated, until a new position is developed and formally agreed upon.

The National Transport Commission (NTC) recommends a phased reform program to facilitate automated vehicle trials, ensure increased confidence in safe performance of more automated vehicles under local conditions, provide clarity over insurance coverage in the event of a crash, and develop a more responsive performance-based approach to the regulation of more automated vehicles.

Releasing its Regulatory reforms for automated road vehicles policy paper last week, the NTC states removing regulatory barriers will "maximise" the benefits of new vehicle technologies to help increase road safety and freight productivity, and reduce congestion on the roads.

The paper follows a one-year project that included researching the barriers to automation, consultation with relevant stakeholders and development of recommendations to support future reform.

Initiatives to commence over coming months include:

  • developing national guidelines to support automated vehicle trials
  • clarifying who is in control of a vehicle with different levels of driving automation
  • developing a comprehensive performance-based safety assurance regime for increasingly automated vehicles
  • removing regulatory barriers in Australian Road Rules and other transport laws that assume a human driver.

"Inconsistent rules, regulations and application procedures for automated vehicles are potential obstacles to deploying this disruptive technology in the future," NTC chief executive Retter says.

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

NTC says the phased reform program is based on market trend analysis to help conditionally automated vehicles operate safely and legally on roads before 2020, and highly and fully automated vehicles from 2020. 

The subject was discussed at last week’s Victorian Transport Association Freight Outlook in Melbourne during a panel session that included VicRoads and ARRB Group.

NTC will soon release a discussion paper encouraging industry feedback on the development of national guidelines for trials of automated vehicles as the first stage of reform.



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