Automated vehicles offer the possibility of fundamentally changing the transport task and society. It is likely this technology can improve road safety, mobility, productivity and environmental outcomes. However, current regulations do not adequately support automated road vehicles and there is uncertainty about how and when current polices and regulations will be adapted. There is also a risk that, without a national and coordinated response to automated vehicle reform, Australia’s complex regulatory framework will result in inconsistent regulation of automated vehicles across states and territories.
In this policy paper, the National Transport Commission (NTC) recommends that the Commonwealth and state and territory governments support on-road trials, remove unnecessary legal barriers, and provide for the safe operation of automated vehicles. These reforms should be undertaken in a phased approach, with near-term, medium-term and long- term priorities, based on an assessment of when different levels of automated vehicles are likely to be commercially available in Australia.
In November 2015 the Transport and Infrastructure Council tasked the NTC to identify any regulatory or operational barriers associated with the introduction of road and rail vehicles that are more automated. The NTC project has identified:
• There are no regulatory barriers to automated rail (including light rail) in Australia, and the NTC project will not be considering automated rail further.
• Current regulations can support vehicles that have partial or conditional automation, but control of the vehicle needs to be clarified.
• There are legal barriers to highly and fully automated road vehicles.
• A nationally consistent regulatory framework can support automated road vehicles. The regulatory framework should be underpinned by nationally agreed policy principles.
The NTC has identifed regulatory barriers
The NTC has identified regulatory barriers for highly or fully automated road vehicles and a number of actions that could increase industry and consumer certainty for vehicles that are conditionally automated or still require a human driver.
In assessing current regulations and policy settings the NTC has identified the following issues:
1. Supporting on-road trials and demonstrations
• There are currently no nationally-consistent guidelines or conditions for on-road trials of automated vehicle technology.
2. Supporting automated driving that requires a human driver
• It is unclear who is in control of an automated vehicle when the human driver must monitor the automated driving system and intervene if requested.
• The enforcement interpretation of proper control that requires a human driver to have at least one hand on the steering wheel is likely to become outdated.
3. Automated driving that does not require a human driver
• There is no regulatory framework in place for governments to ensure the safe operation of automated vehicles that do not require a human driver.
• Road rules and other laws, including many compulsory third-party insurance schemes, assume a human driver and would not apply in the same way to vehicles that do not have a human driver.
• It is uncertain how government agencies would access automated vehicle data, and in what circumstances. •
Current Australian Design Rules (ADRs) and in-service vehicle standards have vehicle standards that require a human driver. They also do not have regard to other matters that are likely to be relevant to automated vehicles, such as security and behavioural compliance with road rules.
Additional issues should continue to be monitored by governments as the technology develops. These include potentially increased safety risks related to vehicle modi cation, maintenance and repair, resolving complex liability scenarios, privacy protection and access to data to determine fault and civil liability. This policy paper sets out key policy findings and eight recommendations to address these issues.
The policy findings and recommendations reflect extensive engagement with government and industry, including vehicle manufacturers, motoring groups, law societies, researchers, insurers, police and road and transport agencies. In February 2016 the NTC published an issues paper for consultation, Regulatory barriers to more automated road and rail vehicles. The consultation identified key issues and project scope and con rmed that there are no regulatory barriers relating to rail vehicles that are more automated. In May 2016 the NTC published a discussion paper for consultation, Regulatory options for automated vehicles. This paper discussed key issues based on a comprehensive NTC legal audit of Commonwealth and state and territory legislation, summarised stakeholder feedback to the issues paper and canvassed potential options to address the identi ed issues. The consultation confirmed the key issues and proposed timing and sequencing of reforms. ....In arguing that "national reform is needed" the NTC states
Industry and consumer uncertainty that automated vehicles are legal
Vehicle manufacturers are progressively introducing increased levels of automated driving controls in their vehicles. Automated vehicles could signi cantly improve road safety outcomes by preventing crashes and reducing deaths and serious injuries, yet the technology cannot be fully used unless our current regulations are reformed. Lack of certainty relating to who or what is in control of an automated vehicle, and the concept of the driver in legislation, are the key regulatory barriers to increasingly automated vehicles.
National and international consistency of laws related to automated vehicles
The Australian Government has responsibility for design rules for new vehicles, but state and territory governments have jurisdiction over in-service vehicle standards, road rules, enforcement, registration and licensing. There is a risk that this complex regulatory framework will result in inconsistent regulation of automated vehicles across states and territories. There is also a risk that regulations will be inconsistent with relevant international standards and conventions. This would constitute a significant barrier to the introduction of automated vehicles in what is primarily a global and import-based market.
The phased timing of reforms
The reform program outlined in the recommendations reflects a considered view that the timing of reforms should be phased as near-term (commence as soon as possible), medium- term (commence reforms within two years) and long-term (commence reforms within three to ve years). This categorisation has been determined based on key assumptions we have tested with industry through the consultation process.
These assumptions are that:
• Demand to trial different levels of driving automation on public roads is already occurring and is expected to increase signi cantly in the next two to three years.
• Large-scale commercial deployment of increasingly automated vehicles that still require a human driver is expected by 2020.
• Large-scale commercial deployment of automated vehicles that do not require a human driver (for some, or all of the journey) is expected after 2020.
Governments seek to ensure that they do not regulate too early – which could create arti cial barriers to emerging technologies – or that they regulate too late and stop proven safety- related technologies from being deployed. The NTC therefore recommends that governments adopt a phased reform program, recognising that the program must be suf ciently exible to reprioritise and address emerging technologies and market developments as required.The NTC accordingly recommends "actions approved by the Transport and Infrastructure Council"-
Government support of on-road trials of automated vehicles for all levels of automated driving
1. That the NTC and Austroads develop national guidelines for on-road eld testing and trials of automated vehicles in Australia.
2. That state and territory road and transport agencies and the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) undertake a review of current exemption powers to ensure they have suf cient powers to undertake and manage on-road trials of automated vehicles, including in relation to vehicle standards, road rules and driver licensing requirements, and to review how cross-border trials could be managed. Certainty for industry and governments as to: (1) who is in control of an automated vehicle (2) how enforcement agencies will apply the ‘proper control’ requirement in the road rules to all levels of driving automation
3. That the NTC develops national enforcement guidelines that clarify regulatory concepts of control and proper control for partial, conditional, highly and fully automated vehicles. The NTC should develop guidelines that have regard to international standards and best practice and in collaboration with state and territory road, transport and police agencies and public prosecutors.
4. That Australian transport ministers agree to reaffirm the existing policy position that:
4.1 The human driver remains in full legal control of a vehicle that is partially or conditionally automated, unless or until a new position is developed and agreed (in alignment with recommendation 3).
4.2 The human driver of a partially or conditionally automated vehicle should only undertake non-driving tasks currently permitted by the road rules and existing enforcement policies and guidelines, unless or until a new position is developed and agreed (in alignment with recommendation 3), or an exemption is provided by a road agency.
A complete regulatory framework to support the safe commercial operation of automated vehicles
5. That the NTC develop a national performance- based assurance regime designed to ensure the safe operation of automated vehicles, with an initial focus on vehicles with conditional automation (level 3). An initial briefing on process and technical performance requirements to be provided to ministers in May 2017.
6. That the NTC develops 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.
7. That state and territory governments undertake a review of compulsory third-party and national injury insurance schemes to identify any eligibility barriers to accessing these schemes by occupants of an automated vehicle, or those involved in a crash with an automated vehicle. That, subject to the review of insurance schemes, each state and territory government amends its compulsory third-party insurance schemes in close consultation with each other and industry, and that the resulting reforms are nationally consistent wherever possible.