Australia to tackle driverless transition

Australia’s federal, state and territory transport ministers have agreed new policies to guide road rules on the path towards fully driverless vehicles.

Australian governments had been waiting on the opinion of the National Transport Commission (NTC) – which has been conducting a comprehensive review of road rules and stakeholder concerns over the past year – prior to agreeing the policies.

The commission has now been given the ‘go ahead’ from ministers to proceed with 24 new policies to overcome some of the legal shortcomings with driverless cars.

In the interrim, Australian governments have jointly committed to an existing policy consensus that a human driver has full legal liability for a vehicle, even if it is ‘partially or conditionally’ automated.

In the longer term, the NTC has advocated for a liability scheme that places the onus on the manufacturer of an automated driving system to defend against liability for a road accident, ‘given that this entity will hold the data to demonstrate who was in control of the vehicle at a point in time’.

The NTC review concluded that fully autonomous vehicles will not become mainstream until after 2020.