Credit: National Transport Commission

Credit: National Transport Commission

Australia’s National Transport Commission launches public consultation for automated vehicles

The National Transport Commission (NTC) is responsible for developing an end-to-end regulatory system for the safe commercial deployment of automated vehicles in Australia by 2020.

On 15 May, the NTC launched a Consultation Regulation Impact Statement and a public consultation on Australia’s approach to a safety assurance system for automated vehicles. This follows a request by transport ministers across Australia for the NTC to assess the costs and benefits of a mandatory self-certification safety assurance system for automated vehicles.

This Consultation Regulation Impact Statement outlines three key problem risks that need to be addressed to ensure the safe commercial deployment of automated vehicles in Australia, including: (1) automated driving systems will fail to deliver reasonable safety outcomes, (2) a lack of consumer confidence in the safety of automated driving systems will reduce or delay their uptake, and (3) automated driving system entities will face inconsistent and/or uncertain regulatory barriers to the supply of automated driving systems in the Australian market.

The statement also identifies and assesses the relative costs and benefits of four options to address the key problem risks. Finally, this paper invites public submissions on the analysis of options and sets out the next steps towards developing a decision Regulation Impact Statement in November 2018.

According to NTC Chief Executive Mr Paul Retter, Australia’s existing laws and regulations do not recognise automated vehicles. As such, the Consultation RIS seeks feedback on what role Australian governments will play in assuring the safety of automated driving systems, and what form a safety assurance system would take.

“Governments around the world are grappling with regulatory frameworks for automated vehicles, and we aim to ensure Australia’s safety assurance systems are best practice,” Mr Retter said.

The Consultation RIS has proposed 11 safety criteria that responsible entities would need to self-certify against, which include aspects of safety system design, compliance with road traffic laws, the ability for systems to be upgraded, mandated testing in Australia, and cyber security, to name a few.

“We have produced the Consultation RIS to gather feedback on the four safety assurance options identified: no change to existing laws, and three options with various choices of safety assurance systems – administrative, legislative, and legislative with a primary safety duty of care on the entity responsible for the automated driving system,” Mr Retter said.

Self-certification by entities bringing automated driving systems to the Australian market was chosen as the preferred safety assurance approach of government and industry, following on from consultation by the NTC in 2017.

The NTC has distributed information on the Consultation RIS to automated vehicle manufacturers internationally as well as across all state and territory governments, the Commonwealth and local industry stakeholders.

Submissions for the Consultation RIS can be made online on the NTC website  until 9 July 2018. Following consultation, the NTC will prepare a Decision RIS for consideration by Australia’s transport ministers in November 2018.

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