Australian transport ministers endorse safety assurance approach for automated vehicles

Transport ministers in Australia have “paved the way” for the commercial deployment of automated vehicles in the next few years after they endorsed a safety approach for approving vehicles when they are first supplied.

The approach for the introduction of automated vehicles will build on the legal framework that currently governs any vehicle when it is imported into Australia, according to Dr Geoff Allan, Acting Chief Executive of the National Transport Commission (NTC).

"We believe that this approach provides a balance between assuring safety and encouraging innovation"

Dr Geoff Allan, NTC

“By using existing legal frameworks to regulate automated vehicles, we can develop a single, nationally consistent approach to have vehicle importers meet key safety requirements,” said Dr Allan.

Australia’s new system will use 11 safety criteria and three obligations against which a new regulated entity – the automated driving system entity – will be assessed.

The legal obligations on this new entity will interact with existing legal responsibilities that apply to the vehicle manufacturer, the vehicle owner and the vehicle driver.

“We believe that this approach provides a balance between assuring safety and encouraging innovation, while giving certainty to industry prior to vehicles being allowed into the Australian market,” Dr Allan said.

At the same time, ministers have called for further work on safety arrangements once automated vehicles are in service. Currently, this responsibility lies with state and territory governments.

“We will develop options for in-service requirements in conjunction with state and territory governments and the Commonwealth government in the coming year,” he said.

“Australia is also committed to harmonising regulations on automated vehicles in line with international standards as they are developed.”

The safety assurance approaches will be implemented alongside a complete set of reforms to create an end-to-end regulatory framework for automated vehicles in Australia.

The full list of safety criteria and the outcomes of the NTC’s consultation on options for safety assurance can be found in the Safety Assurance of Automated Driving Systems: Decision Regulation Impact Statement.