Commission seeks driverless car input

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National road trails for autonomous vehicles have moved one step closer with the release of new Government guidelines.

The National Transport Commission has released a discussion paper, National guidelines for automated vehicle trials, and is calling for input from all interested parties on the elements needed to support automated vehicle trials, including insurance requirements.

“Ensuring automated vehicle trials have appropriate insurance could be a key objective of national guidelines,” the report states.

“A key issue is the extent to which insurance products and the level of insurance should be specified in the national guidelines.”

With many projecting that driverless cars will have a multi-billion impact on the insurance industry, the NTC paper sees the technology take a step closer to wider use on Australian roads. Driverless vehicles have already been trialled in South Australia as Zurich partnered with the Australian Driverless Vehicles Initiative in November 2015.

“Automated vehicles are expected to result in improved safety outcomes. However, crashes involving automated vehicles will still be possible,” the report continues.

“There is a clear ongoing need for automated vehicles involved in on-road trials to have insurance to cover injury, property damage and theft. In Australia, a number of insurance products could be available to cover an on-road trial of an automated vehicle.

“The NTC is seeking feedback on whether national guidelines should reference insurance.”

NTC acting chief executive, Geoff Allan, noted that on-road trials of driverless vehicles are an important step in the development of the technology.

“Developing a single and nationally-agreed set of guidelines would help promote Australia as a test bed for automated vehicles by providing consistent conditions for trials, while at the same time encouraging innovation,” Allan said.

“The guidelines will also help support cross-border trials.

“By harmonising trial conditions and expectations across jurisdictions, governments can work with industry to further explore the potential economic, environmental and safety benefits of this technology.”

Recommendations on the guidelines will be presented by the NTC, in partnership with Austroads, at the Transport and Infrastructure Council meeting in May 2017.
Input into the guidelines can be provided until 4pm Monday January 16, via the NTC website.

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