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Interested parties have been asked to make submissions about how the concepts of control and proper control in the Australian Road Rules should apply to automated vehicles.

NTC seeks feedback on proposal for drivers to allow hands off the wheel in some automated vehicles

12 April 2017

Interested parties have been asked to make submissions about how the concepts of control and proper control in the Australian Road Rules should apply to automated vehicles.

The National Transport Commission (NTC) today released a discussion paper, Clarifying control of automated vehicles, calling for input on the development of national enforcement guidelines to clarify if the human driver or the automated driving system is in control at certain levels of driving automation.

Chief Executive of the NTC Paul Retter said agreement on a position about the definition of ‘proper control’ is a fundamental step in preparing Australia for the safe deployment of automated vehicles.

“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.”

One proposal in the discussion paper considers allowing a driver to supervise automated driving without needing to have a hand on the wheel for certain levels of driving automation. This would include introducing new indicators related to alertness and readiness to intervene.

The discussion paper explores three key questions:

  • Who is in control of an automated vehicle – the human driver or the entity responsible for the automated driving system?
  • How should the proper control test apply to the human driver in vehicles at different levels of automation?
  • How should the proper control test apply to the automated driving system when it is engaged?

Submissions for this discussion paper are open until 4pm Friday, 2 June 2017 via the NTC website.

Feedback from this consultation will inform the development of national enforcement guidelines which will be presented to transport ministers in November 2017.

This work is part of the NTC’s broader roadmap of reform to prepare Australia for automated road vehicles.

More information on the NTC’s automated vehicle projects is available on the NTC website.

Last Updated: 12/4/2017