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Preparing for Automated Vehicles

Australia's transport ministers, through the COAG Transport and Infrastructure Council, have agreed on the strategic priority of preparing for the deployment of automated vehicles and other innovative transport technologies. The Council has agreed to a program of national work, which is being implemented collaboratively by the Australian, state, and territory governments, as well as intergovernmental organisations such as Austroads and the National Transport Commission.

The current work program includes:

Trials of automated vehicles and other innovative technologies are already underway across Australia.

The Office of Future Transport Technology is coordinating federal Government work to prepare for the safe and legal deployment of connected and automated vehicles.

Further information about how Australia is preparing for automated vehicles is available from these factsheets PDF: 248 KB ReadSpeaker and PDF: 7775 KB ReadSpeaker

National Policy Framework for Land Transport Technology

In August 2016, the Transport and Infrastructure Council agreed to the National Policy Framework for Land Transport Technology. The Policy Framework outlines a principles-based approach to facilitate the efficient, effective and consistent implementation and uptake of transport technology across Australia.

The Policy Framework outlines the following four roles for government:

  • Policy leadership—providing a clear, nationally coordinated approach across different levels of government, being responsive to changes in the technological environment;
  • Enabling—ensuring that the private sector is able to bring beneficial new technologies to market;
  • Supportive regulatory environment—ensuring that community expectations of safety, security and privacy are appropriately considered in new technology deployments; and
  • Investment—investing in research, development and real-world trials that benefit the entire transport network customer base or provide a sound basis for government decision-making (including collaboration with the private sector).

A copy of the Policy Framework is available on the Transport Infrastructure Council website.

National Land Transport Technology Action Plan

The Policy Framework is underpinned by a 3-year action plan PDF: 1278 KB ReadSpeaker which outlines national short to medium term priorities, focusing on the five key issues for Government identified in the Framework:

  • Safety, Security and Privacy
  • Digital and Physical Infrastructure
  • Data
  • Standards and Interoperability
  • Disruption and Change.

This action plan is an update of the 2016–2019 version PDF: 221 KB ReadSpeaker. It will be reviewed regularly to ensure it responds to new and emerging issues.

Further information is available by emailing automatedvehicles@infrastructure.gov.au

Regulatory Reforms for Automated Vehicles

In November 2016, the Transport and Infrastructure Council tasked the National Transport Council (NTC) with leading a number of reforms to the regulation of automated vehicles, particularly in relation to legal and safety issues. This work complements and builds on the principles and actions established in the Policy Framework.

In November 2016, the NTC released a policy paper Regulatory Reforms for Automated Road Vehicles, following a 12-month investigation into potential regulatory barriers and two separate rounds of public consultation.

Subsequently, the Transport and Infrastructure Council has agreed to the following actions:

  • develop national guidelines governing conditions for trials of automated vehicles;
  • develop national enforcement guidelines that clarify regulatory concepts of control and proper control for different levels of driving automation;
  • design and develop a safety assurance regime for automated road vehicles;
  • 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 entities;
  • review current exemption powers to ensure legislation can support on-road trials;
  • review injury insurance schemes to identify any eligibility barriers for occupants of an automated vehicle, or those involved in a crash with an automated vehicle; and
  • develop options to manage government access to automated vehicle data that balances road safety and network efficiency outcomes and efficient enforcement of traffic laws with sufficient privacy protections for automated vehicle users.

Further information on the current status of these regulatory reforms is available on the National Transport Commission website.

Austroads Connected and Automated Vehicle Program

Austroads, the peak organisation of Australasian road transport and traffic agencies, is also assisting with the deployment of emerging vehicle technologies through its Connected and Automated Vehicles Program. Austroads' role is to prepare Australia's road authorities for the impacts of automated vehicles on traffic operations.

Austroads is working closely with government and industry stakeholders on issues such as changes to infrastructure design, driver licencing and vehicle registration. Further information can be found on the Austroads website.

Trials of Connected and Automated Vehicles

Trials are planned or underway in a number of states and territories. A number of the trials include automated vehicles operating on open, public roads, and will help to inform future approaches to policy, regulation, investment and operations. A list of the trials currently underway is available from Austroads.

House of Representatives Report on Social Issues Relating to Automated Vehicles

In September 2017, the House of Representatives Committee on Industry, Innovation, Science and Resources tabled its report on Social issues relating to land-based automated vehicles in Australia.

The Australian Government response to the report supports or supports in-principle all of the Committee’s 10 recommendations. It discusses the progress that Australia is making to ensure that automated vehicles are deployed successfully, and acknowledges that reforms need to progress in step with international developments. The response outlines how the Australian Government is working with all jurisdictions to ensure that coordinated action is taken on issues such as:

  • make sure the vehicles themselves can operate safely and legally on our road networks with other road users;
  • ensure the information and data produced by automated vehicles is not misused and people’s privacy is protected;
  • consider approaches for the cybersecurity of automated vehicles in an international context;
  • make sure that when these cars are available they take into account the needs of all Australians;
  • consider what automated vehicles will mean for future driver licensing and road rules;
  • make sure our roads are ready and that road signs, traffic lights and road markings are compatible with connected and automated vehicles; and
  • look at consumer protections, including insurance and liability.

The Australian Government response is available.

House of Representatives Report on Automated Mass Transit

In October 2018 Minister Tudge referred an inquiry into automated mass transit to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Infrastructure, Transport and Cities.

The committee’s final report, ‘Innovating Transport across Australia’ was released in March 2019. A copy of the report is available here.

The Government is preparing a response.


Last Updated: 1 April, 2020