Tuesday, 15 May 2018 19:06

Focus on safety assurance system regulation for autonomous vehicles

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Australia’s existing laws and regulations do not recognise automated vehicles, prompting the National Transport Commission to seek public input into the issue of safety assurance systems for the vehicles.

The NTC’s Consultation Regulation Impact Statement opened for public consultation on Tuesday.

NTC chief executive Paul Retter said the Consultation RIS sought feedback on what role Australian Governments would play in assuring the safety of automated driving systems, and what form a safety assurance system would take.

“We have produced the Consultation RIS to gather feedback on the four safety assurance options identified: no change to existing laws, and three options with various choices of safety assurance systems – administrative, legislative, and legislative with a primary safety duty of care on the entity responsible for the automated driving system.”

The release of the RIS follows a request by transport ministers across Australia for the NTC to assess the costs and benefits of a mandatory self-certification safety assurance system for automated vehicles.

Self-certification by entities bringing automated driving systems to the Australian market was chosen as the preferred safety assurance approach of government and industry, following consultation by the NTC in 2017.

The Consultation RIS has proposed 11 safety criteria that responsible entities would need to self-certify against, which include aspects of safety system design, compliance with road traffic laws, the ability for systems to be upgraded, mandated testing in Australia, and cyber security.

Under a self-certification regime, the NTC is proposing 11 safety criteria that the applicant must self-certify against:
 
1.   Safe system design and validation processes
2.   Operational Design Domain
3.   Human Machine Interface
4.   Compliance with relevant road traffic laws
5.   Interaction with enforcement and other emergency services
6.   Minimal risk condition
7.   On-road behavioural competency
8.   Installation of system upgrades
9.   Testing for the Australian road environment
10.  Cyber security
11.  Education and training

“Governments around the world are grappling with regulatory frameworks for automated vehicles, and we aim to ensure Australia’s safety assurance systems are best practice,” Retter said.

The NTC has distributed information on the Consultation RIS to automated vehicle manufacturers internationally as well as across all state and territory governments, the Commonwealth and local industry stakeholders.

Submissions can be made until 9 July via the NTC website and, following consultation, the NTC will prepare a Decision RIS for consideration by Australia’s transport ministers in November this year.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired and is a "volunteer" writer for iTWire. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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