NTC Releases Paper On Regulating Autonomous Vehicles

The National Transport Commission has released a consultation paper outlining the proposed approach to regulating autonomous vehicles, which it expects may begin operating in Australia from 2026.

Ministers had previously agreed the Commonwealth would legislate to provide a framework for regulating autonomous vehicles. This issue has been under discussion for several years and some small-scale trials have been conducted in various states, including a 2022 trial by Transurban 2022 on urban motorways (including CityLink) in Melbourne (pictured above).

The consultation paper, which is available here, is anticipating that from 2026 autonomous vehicles may begin operating in Australia. The paper is seeking input on:

  • How to ensure the safety of remote operation of vehicles with an automated driving system;
  • Requirements for certification of an Automated Driving System (ADS) and an Automated Driving System Entity (organisation which takes responsibility for the ADS) to allow an ADS to be permitted to be used on Australian roads;
  • Human user obligations when using automated vehicles including vehicle control and seating, licensing requirements, drug and alcohol restrictions, requirements for the user to monitor the driving task;
  • Whether additional measures are needed to manage the influence of repairers, maintainers and modifiers on the safety of an automated driving system;
  • Ways to promote consumer understanding of automated vehicle capabilities, including provision of technical information and regulating misleading marketing;
  • Obligations for users of vehicles with an automated driving system under state and territory laws; and
  • Whether measures are needed to control the risk of deployment of automated vehicles before the regulatory framework is in place, including legal enforcement options and interactions with existing legislation covering transport laws, insurance, dangerous goods, work health and safety and consumer law.

The responses to the discussion paper will be used to inform the design of the regulatory framework. Consultation will be open until June 11, 2024.

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