AUSTRALIAN governments, vehicle manufacturers, transport technology providers and other interested parties have been asked to contribute to the development of a national safety assurance regime for automated vehicles.
While the potential for running driverless vehicles on public roads is the subject of intense interest in the urban and public arena, Grain Central has regularly reported on the growing presence of driverless tractors and robotic machinery in the agricultural sector (see list of examples below).
The National Transport Commission (NTC) has released a discussion paper, ‘Regulatory options to assure automated vehicle safety in Australia’, which examines the balance between government oversight and industry self-regulation for automated vehicle safety.
The paper identifies four regulatory options for a safety assurance system for automated vehicle technology.
NTC chief executive, Paul Retter, said Australia’s transport ministers asked the NTC to look at what level of regulation was needed to ensure automated driving technologies were safe now and into the future.
“Australian governments are starting to remove legislative barriers to more automated road vehicles. Without a safety assurance system, these vehicles could potentially be deployed with no government oversight or regulatory intervention,” Mr Retter said.
“These technologies are highly innovative, technically advanced and varied, and we don’t yet know if they will be safe. We need a mechanism that supports innovation without unnecessary red tape, but also assures the Australian public that automated vehicles are safe.”
The NTC is seeking feedback on four regulatory options including continuing the current approach, self-certification, pre-market approval and accreditation.
“This is a significant reform in road transport. Over time we will see the risks associated with the driving task shift away from the human driver towards the automated driving system and our regulatory system must be able to accommodate this shift,” Mr Retter said.
Submissions for the discussion paper are open until 4pm, Friday, 28 July 2017 via the NTC website.
Following consultation on this paper, the NTC will present a preferred regulatory option to transport ministers in November 2017.
This work is a key part of the NTC’s roadmap of reform to prepare Australia for automated road vehicles.
For more information, visit www.ntc.gov.au/roads/technology/automated-vehicles-in-australia/
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