National guidelines to facilitate driverless car trials

The National Transport Commission has released a discussion paper seeking input on guidelines for testing automated vehicles.

“Developing a single and nationally agreed set of guidelines would help promote Australia as a test bed for automated vehicles by providing consistent conditions for trials, while at the same time encouraging innovation,” acting NTC CEO Geoff Allan said.

“On-road trials are necessary to ensure that automated driving systems can operate safely and efficiently in Australian conditions,” the discussion paper states.

“However, the lack of a common approach from state and territory road transport agencies on how they will regulate and support trials of automated vehicles is creating uncertainty for industry and the risk of inconsistency between states and territories.”

Earlier this month ministers at the Transport and Infrastructure Council meeting endorsed a series of proposals relating to automated vehicles, including the development by NTC and Austroads of national guidelines for on-road field testing and trials.

The NTC has identified some 716 legislative provisions that could act as a barrier to highly or fully automated vehicles operating on public roads.

The discussion paper states that the guidelines could potentially cover areas including management of trials, safety management plans, insurance, data and information, and potential cross-border issues.

In 2015 the first southern hemisphere tests of autonomous vehicles on public roads were staged in South Australia after the state’s parliament introduced laws to make the trials possible.

A national approach to automated and semi-automated vehicles has been endorsed by a NSW parliamentary inquiry and a recent federal inquiry.

The NTC discussion paper is available online (PDF).

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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