Australia’s NTC opens consultation on safety assurance system for automated vehicles

Australia’s National Transport Commission (NTC) has opened a Consultation Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) to public consultation to explore the country’s approach to a safety assurance system for automated vehicles.

Australia’s current laws and regulations do not recognise automated vehicles, according to NTC Chief Executive Paul Retter, so the consultation is seeking feedback on the role Australian governments should play in assuring the safety of automated driving systems. It will also explore what form a safety assurance system would take.

Its publication follows a request by Australian transport ministers for the NTC to assess the costs and benefits of a mandatory self-certification safety assurance system for automated vehicles.

“We have produced the Consultation RIS to gather feedback on the four safety assurance options identified: no change to existing laws, and three options with various choices of safety assurance systems – administrative, legislative, and legislative with a primary safety duty of care on the entity responsible for the automated driving system,” said Retter.

An NTC consultation in 2017 found that self-certification by those bringing automated driving systems to the Australia market was the preferred safety assurance approach of government and industry.

The NTC’s Consultation RIS therefore proposes 11 safety criteria that these organisations would need to self-certify against, including aspects of safety system design, compliance with road traffic laws, the ability for systems to be upgraded, mandated testing in Australia and cyber-security.

“Governments around the world are grappling with regulatory frameworks for automated vehicles, and we aim to ensure Australia’s safety assurance systems are best practice,” said Retter.