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A brief overview of automated vehicles legislation and trials in Australia

A brief overview of automated vehicles legislation and trials in Australia

New legislation
was passed
this week in the Victorian, which would allow driverless or automated vehicles
to be trialled across the state.

The changes to the Road Safety Act 1986 will enable VicRoads to grant permits to
individuals or organisations who want to conduct on-road trials of automated
vehicles. Under the new laws, all driverless vehicle trials will require a
human supervisor to monitor the vehicle from either inside or outside the
vehicle. Once it has been established a vehicle can drive safely, this
condition may be removed to allow the vehicle to drive in automated mode in
limited circumstances without a supervisor.

This Legislation is expected to encourage national and
international industry leaders to develop this emerging technology in Victoria
– which means more jobs and opportunities for Victorians now.

The Victorian Minister for Roads and Road Safety, Luke
Donnellan, has also announced a AU$9 million grant program for researchers and
industry, as part of the Towards
Zero Road Strategy
and Action Plan, which aims to work towards a 20%
reduction in deaths  and 15% reduction in serious injuries in five
years, from 2016 to 2020. These grants will support the development of vehicles
with connected and automated technology and safety features.

In October 2016, the Victorian Government partnered
with Bosch, the Transport Accident Commission and VicRoads to build the first
vehicle developed in Australia with self-driving capabilities. The state
Government’s Intelligent
Transport System Transport Technology Grant Program
includes three
projects, which involve industry leaders working with transport bodies to
improve traffic management and flow on Victoria’s road network. For example,
the Australian Road Research Board (ARRB) is partnership with Connect East and
LaTrobe University, receiving $578,000 over 18 months for their project to
enable roadside infrastructure such as traffic lights and electronic speed
signs to communicate with vehicles.

Other Australian states have also passed legislation within
the past two years to enable the trial of automated vehicles. Several trials
are already being conducted
around the country.

Legislation to allow the trial of automated vehicles in New South
Wales (NSW) passed
both Houses of Parliament in July 2017. In August 2017, the NSW Government also
launched the trial
of a driverless shuttle bus
at Sydney Olympic Park. Transport for NSW is seeking
to provide seed funding and partner with industry, researchers,  local
councils and businesses to develop and co-deliver a number of connected and
automated vehicle trials across regional NSW. 

Perth in Western Australia (WA) is hosting trials
of electric-powered autonomous vehicles produced by French company NAVYA. The trials
are being run by the Royal Automobile Club of Western Australia in partnership
with the State Government.

In November 2017, the South Australian Government allocated funding of AU$1
million for Flinders University for trialling Navya’s ARMA electric shuttle.
The funds were assigned from the Department of Transport, Planning and Infrastructure’s
Future Mobility Fund

Previously, in June 2016, the South Australian Parliament enacted the Motor Vehicles (Trials of Automotive
Technologies) Amendment Bill 2016
, providing a framework to
facilitate on-road trials, testing and development of driverless vehicles and
other advanced automotive technology on South Australian roads.

The ACT (Australian Capital Territory) Government entered a
two-year research partnership with Canberra company, Seeing Machines,
with the signing of a $1.2 million Deed of Grant in December 2017 to
initiate trials to improve safety
in automated vehicles using Seeing Machines’ driver monitoring technology. Fully
equipped trial vehicles are expected to be on the road in early 2018.

Queensland’s Department of Transport and Main Roads is handling the Cooperative
and Automated Vehicle Initiative (CAVI) to
help prepare for the arrival of new vehicle technologies with safety, mobility
and environmental benefits on Queensland roads. The largest component of CAVI
is the Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems (C-ITS) Pilot. The pilot will
take place on public roads in and around the City of Ipswich from 2019 for up
to one year. CAVI also includes a Cooperative and Highly Automated Driving
(CHAD) pilot, wherein a small number of cooperative and automated
vehicles will be tested on public and private roads using trained and public
participants. The pilot will asset readiness (that is, can existing signs and
lines be read by automated vehicles); driver behaviour (human machine
interface) and vehicle performance.

At the federal level, Australian transport ministers agreed
to a phased reform program in November 2016, so that conditionally automated
vehicles can operate safely and legally on roads before 2020, and highly and
fully automated vehicles from 2020. The National Transport Commission (NTC) is delivering
this roadmap of reform
through a phased approach.

In November 2016, the NTC released a policy paper, Regulatory
reforms for automated road vehicles
. This concluded a one-year
project to research the regulatory barriers and develop recommendations to
support future reform. Transport ministers approved all eight
recommendations outlined in the policy paper
and charged the NTC with delivering
the recommended regulatory reform agenda.

NTC developed national guidelines governing conditions for
trials of automated vehicles in May 2017. In November 2017, national
enforcement guidelines were developed to clarify regulatory concepts of control
and proper control for different levels of driving automation.

By May 2018, NTC aims to 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. NTC will design and develop a safety assurance regime for automated
road vehicles by November 2018.

During 2018, NTC will also 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.

NTC will also work with jurisdictions to review current
exemption powers to ensure legislation can support on-road trials, so that all Australian
jurisdictions are able to support automated vehicle trials.

Featured
image
: Phillip Capper/ CC BY 2.0

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