The National Transport Commission (NTC) has called for submissions by 28 July 2017 on options being considered for laws to assure automated vehicle safety.
These options are set out in a discussion paper recently released by the NTC. In the paper, the NTC evaluates 3 alternatives for changing the current regulatory framework for motor vehicles and driver certification and asks a series of consultation questions about each option.
The 3 options outlined in the NTC discussion paper are, in summary:
- Self-Certification – Introducing compliance guidelines and obliging manufacturers and suppliers to submit a statement of compliance for each vehicle. Primary duty for manufacturers, suppliers and automated driving system entities to provide safe automated vehicles. An automated vehicle would be free to operate on any road network once a statement of compliance was submitted and approved. Technical compliance managed internally by vehicle manufacturers and no reporting of system failures to government.
- Pre-market approval – Establishing a Government agency responsible for approving applications to permit automated driving to operate on public roads. System of pre-approval would also extend to any safety-critical changes to the vehicles. Evidence of vehicle design and testing to assist the approval process. Pre-approval process to run parallel to ADR approvals. Ongoing reporting of ‘safety-critical events’ expected. Approvals system could be handled by third party experts.
- Accreditation – Adopt an accreditation system to apply to operators responsible for automated driving systems. The accreditation agency assesses whether the applicant has identified and managed risks to a legal standard of care but does not approve the operators’ vehicles or take responsibility for their safe operation. Accreditation would allow registration of any automated vehicle or automation system manufactured by the applicant, subject to also meeting relevant ADR approvals/exemptions.
The NTC is the independent statutory body formed to plan the regulation and operation of Australian road, rail and other transport. This now includes automated vehicle technology. Among the NTC’s current projects, it is planning a ‘safety assurance system’ to plan for the commercial deployment of vehicles with different levels of automation. This ‘safety assurance system’ will be implemented alongside separate driver reforms.
Having regard to submissions to the NTC in response to the consultation questions in the discussion paper, the NTC will select a ‘preferred regulatory option’ and report to the Transport and Infrastructure Council in November 2017. A policy paper will then be released for further consultation on how to implement the preferred regulatory option.