National Guidelines for Automated Vehicle Trials (Australia)

This report presents & asks for feedback on guidance for how to conduct trials (or tests, demonstrations) for autonomous vehicles around Australia  and internationally.

Benefits and Problems Addressed

Standardization for trials: Guidelines establish a common approach for road transport agencies on how they will regulate and support trials of automated vehicles.

Certainty for industry: the guidelines create certainty for industry and consistency across states and territories.

Encourage innovation:  Guidelines are more flexible mechanism than legislation and help ensure testing/demo sponsors face similar conditions across trials.

Tips & Techniques

Purpose: Guidelines are needed to safely scale autonomous vehicle deployment on public roads. The discussion paper frames a discussion on both required and optional testing elements. 

Applicability: Though focused on Australia, the discussion paper provides a comprehensive analysis of existing trial conditions developed in/for other jurisdictions, including the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Japan and the United States. The discussion paper and resulting guidelines can help any locality understand the steps and components for trials.  In this way, they have a better chance attracting and working with test sponsors.

Oversight roles: The purpose of trial oversight for both required and optional elements, seeks to ensure:

  • that trials are safe, including ensuring that they are only run in appropriate conditions 
  • that trial sponsors are managing safety risks appropriately 
  • that trial sponsors can manage liability
  • that any crashes can be appropriately investigated
  • that trials may move across borders where appropriate. 

Trial Management: Management requirements require (1) Location; (2) List of governing road rules & traffic laws, vehicle standards and privacy & surveillance laws (no exemptions); (3) Plan alignment including traffic management plan, infrastructure changes, and public engagement.

Safety management plan: Trial sponsors must develop a safety management plan outlining (1) pre-trial operator training and vehicle testing at a test facility; (2) automated system security; (2) appropriate system failure warnings; (3) appropriate transition/handoff processes between autonomous and manual modes; (4)  whether a human operator is onboard; and (5) any other relevant safety risks for the trial.  

Insurance: Trial sponsors must demonstrate that they have appropriate insurance

Data and information: Trial sponsors must collect and provide the appropriate road agency data on (1) any crashes that occur as part of the trials; (2) ongoing data updates; (3) trial outcomes; (4) data on network operation and conditions.

Separate trials for heavier vehicles: Trials for heavy vehicles need heightened attention doe to their size and likelihood freight will precede other types of autonomous technology.

Hot Buttons:  Cross-border issues: when working across borders, when to grant exemptions to local rules and regulations, determining how long trials should last before scaling up to public roads.


National Guidelines for Automated Vehicle Trials - Australia National Transport Commission