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New laws in works for autonomous vehicles

Posted: 2 June 2018 10:25 am
Autonomous vehicles on metro city road_shutterstock_680966149_450

Transport ministers start the process of creating driving laws for automated vehicles.

Transport ministers across all states and territories agreed to alter nationwide driving laws to cover driverless vehicles on public roads on 18 May 2018. The laws should be in place by 2020 and give car makers looking to develop additional autonomous technology scope in Australia.

The wording of current road rules only ever envisages human drivers. Over 700 laws need altering to provide a clearer understanding of who is at fault in an accident and how humans and automated vehicles will share the road.

The body in charge of developing regulation for safe roads, the National Transport Commission (NTC) views the changes as mandatory.

“Without a change to existing laws or new law, there would be no-one to hold responsible for compliance with our road rules when an automated driving system is in control of a vehicle,” said the NTC chief executive Paul Retter.

Consistent, national law popular with automakers

Retter also believed that a uniform approach to self-driving cars, and those with varying levels of autonomy, could be attractive to car manufacturers. Clear laws will also help the public understand how self-driving vehicles interact with human drivers.

“With automated vehicles, there will be times when an ‘automated driving system’, rather than a human, will be in control of the vehicle. We need a nationally consistent law to know who is in control of a motor vehicle at any point in time,” Retter explained.

How will laws change?

Regulations will be examined with the following factors in mind:

  • Cover an automated driving system for driving, rather than a person at the wheel.
  • Establish who is legally responsible for such a car, and make sure it is clear who is in control at all times.
  • Set obligations for involved parties, including the automated driving system.
  • Provide a legal framework for compliance and enforcement.

What will happen moving forward?

Moving forward, the NTC will use a paper it produced entitled “Changing driving laws to support automated vehicles” to work with transport authorities to formulate recommendations for the national law. The amendments should arrive by 2020, in time for the expected uptake in vehicles with enhanced self-driving technologies.

“This is a considerable change to national road transport laws, to support the significant changes we see coming in transport technology," Retter said.

Summary of autonomous vehicles

Countries like Japan are also targeting a 2020 introduction of autonomous vehicles. The nation has its eyes set on the Tokyo Olympics as the ideal chance to ferry athletes between events using driverless cars.

Computer controlled vehicles have the potential to shake-up the entire car insurance industry. Already, the NSW government and the ACT authorities are testing self-driving autos on controlled public roads. Insurers like IAG believe that non-human driven cars are realistically unlikely to hit the streets before 2030.

However, these technologies, once fully matured, could make our roads safer and bring reduced car insurance costs. NRMA insurance already offers 15% discount to owners of cars with Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB).

In car news

Picture: Shutterstock

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