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Automated vehicles guidelines published

The National Transport Commission (NTC) and Austroads have published the joint publication, Guidelines for trials of automated vehicles in Australia, which marks a first step in the Australian government's ambitious roadmap of reform to facilitate the introduction of automated vehicles.

According to the publication, the guidelines are designed to offer flexibility and to support different technologies and applications as they emerge. "Rather than embed trial requirements in legislation, these guidelines provide a performance-based framework that supports innovation and gives certainty to governments and industry alike," it said.

The guidelines support state and territory road agencies in providing exemptions or permits for trials, and give greater certainty to industry on conditions for trials.

Chief Executive of the NTC, Paul Retter, said the guidelines were designed to be easy for industry to use, to support trials across Australia.

“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,” Retter said.

“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.”

Industry will have flexibility in the type of trials that can be run, so long as they provide a clear scope of operations, a safety management plan that addresses risks, and appropriate insurance.

Trialling organisations will also need to provide data from trials to road transport agencies, including details of any crashes.

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

State and territory governments are also reviewing their exemption powers to ensure that they have appropriate powers to support trials.

Nick Koukoulas, Chief Executive of Austroads, said the guidelines draw on international best practice and have a strong focus on safety.

“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,” Koukoulas said.

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

The guidelines are available for download on the NTC and Austroads websites.

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