The road rules for driverless cars on Australian roads are being decided now.
The National Transport Commission has today released a discussion paper that seeks to clarify the basic definition of driverless technologies and the concept of control and how this should be applied to the Australian road rules in the future.
The NTC has asked for submissions from interested parties and called for input on the development of national enforcement guidelines that determine if the human driver or the automated driving system is in control at certain levels of driving automation.
The fundamental step of agreeing on a national definition of what the NTC terms ‘proper control’ is a paramount to preparing Australia’s road network, the driving public and the law enforcement agencies for the safe implentation of autonomous cars, said the NTC’s chief executive Paul Retter in a statement.
“Our existing road transport laws are based on the principle that the human driver is in control of the vehicle. Vehicles with an automated driving system that can perform parts of the driving task challenge these concepts of control,” Mr Retter said.
“We need to arrive at an agreed position early to provide certainty for police and enforcement agencies.
“Agreeing on a nationally-consistent approach is also expected to provide more certainty for consumers, automotive manufacturers and insurers around the question of who may be liable for damages following a crash or incident involving automated vehicles.
“National guidelines will help ensure drivers are treated consistently in different parts of the country.”
With brands such as Mercedes-Benz and BMW already offering semi-automated technologies that can allow for hands-free motoring for short periods of time, the NTC said it is imperative that regulations keep pace with technological developments.
Considering those car makers – and others – have earmarked a public introduction of next-level autonomous cars by 2020, the discussion paper is designed to explore three basic principles – who is control? How should a proper control test apply to a human driver in an automated vehicle? and how should the same test apply to the automated driving system when it is in use?
Submissions for the discussion paper are open until Friday June 2, 2017 and can be submitted via the NTC’s website (www.ntc.gov.au). The feedback will be presented to relevant authorities and transport ministers later this year