Australia launches national guidelines for automated vehicle trials

Road sign along thE Stuart Highway

As governments across the country take action to prepare for autonomous vehicles, Australia has launched national guidelines for trials of automated vehicles.

A joint publication by the National Transport Commission (NTC) and Austroads, the guidelines – Guidelines for trials of automated vehicles in Australia – are designed to be flexible and easy to use, helping to support industry trials across the country.

“We have worked closely with vehicle manufacturers, technology developers and federal, state and territory governments to ensure our approach to trials is nationally-consistent and reflects best practice,” said NTC Chief Executive Paul Retter.

“With a range of different environmental conditions, a receptive population and now guidelines for the safe conduct of trials, Australia has the potential to become a global testing and innovation hub for automated vehicles.”



Organisations carrying out automated vehicle trials will need to address several key issues, including: having a clear scope of operations; putting in place a safety management plan that addresses risks; and ensuring appropriate insurance is in place.

Vehicle manufacturers will also need to provide testing data to road transport agencies, including details of any crashes.

With a range of different environmental conditions, a receptive population and now guidelines for the safe conduct of trials, Australia has the potential to become a global testing and innovation hub for automated vehicles.
— NTC Chief Executive Paul Retter

“This approach allows industry to innovate – they just need to demonstrate that they are managing the risks, including any risk to other road users,” said Retter.

The guidelines are designed to draw on international best practice and include a strong focus on safety, according to Austroads.

“By establishing a performance-based framework to support on-road trials, these guidelines aim to assure the Australian community that roads are being used safely,” said Nick Koukoulas, Chief Executive of Austroads.

“We’re looking forward to the Australian public getting a first-hand view of the benefits of these new and emerging technologies.”

In November, the NTC announced a phased series of reforms for driverless car regulation, aimed at allowing partially autonomous vehicles to operate safely and legally on Australia’s roads by 2020.