Autonomous vehicles are being used on Victorian roads. But what does this mean in terms of the road rules and legal responsibility for driving a vehicle?
Levels of automation range from those that have been available for some time such as dynamic cruise control to full-automation/driverless vehicles. While dynamic cruise control is common on Victorian roads these days, there is still a long way to go before we have fully-automated vehicles everywhere.
EastLink has a great explanation about the different levels of automation – from ‘level 0 – no automation’ to ‘level 5 – full automation’. Read the article.
What isn’t always clear is how the vehicle standards and road rules apply, as well as liability and insurance for automated vehicles on Victorian roads.
To provide certainty regarding the road rules and the use of existing technology in vehicles, “transport ministers reaffirmed the existing policy position that the human driver remains in full legal control of a vehicle that is partially or conditionally automated, unless or until a new position is developed and agreed.” Source: NTC.
This means drivers with vehicles using currently available technology such as dynamic cruise control, lane keep assist, parking assist or collision avoidance, are considered to be responsible for the control of their vehicle even when operating these autonomous technologies.
There are a number of trials being conducted of automated vehicles around Australia.
In Victoria, RACV is supporting a number of trials including a trial on EastLink testing the use of semi-autonomous features in cars that require the driver’s hands on the wheel and are already being sold in Australia (or will be released during the trials). Find out more about the trial on EastLink.
Other trials include a NAVYA autonomous bus trial through an agreement with HMI Technologies, a trial on parts of CityLink, and a Melbourne University trial which sees the streets in a section of Fitzroy and Collingwood (between Hoddle and Nicholson Streets and Alexandra and Victoria Parades) being wired with smart city technology that can ‘connect’ with existing semi-autonomous vehicles, such as high-end Mercedes-Benz vehicles, BMWs and Audis.
In Western Australia, our counterparts RAC WA, are conducting the first public trial of a fully driverless shuttle bus. Watch their videos.
For more information on autonomous cars, the technology and how they work read our articles Autonomous car – coming to a street near you and The Autonomous Car – What it will mean for you.