ACT Liberals call for driverless vehicle trials


news The ACT Liberals have released an exposure draft of legislation which would facilitate driverless vehicle trials in the Australian Capital Territory.

“Autonomous vehicles are an exciting and innovative development, said Shadow Minister for Transport Alistair Coe in a statement on 25 January.

Self-driving cars are being developed and refined across the world, with companies such as Google, Tesla, Volvo, Hyundai, General Motors, Ford and Mercedes-Benz investing in the development of what is widely seen as the future of automotive technology.

“We are only a few years away from having commercially available autonomous vehicles,” said Coe. “The legislation I am releasing today will provide for the safe testing and development of autonomous vehicles in the ACT.”

The exposure draft (available online in PDF format) is based on legislation which has been enacted in South Australia and some areas of the US. The United Kingdom also has legislation in place to allow for the trialling of autonomous vehicles, as well as a generous research and development fund, said the shadow minister.

Autonomous vehicles have the potential to provide many benefits including increased safety on the roads, increased social inclusion and fuel efficiency, Coe explained.

A report from the Department of Infrastructure found that autonomous vehicles also have the ability to ease congestion.

The Liberal’s ACT draft initiative follows events in South Australia in mid-2015, when the state government announced that driverless cars would be driven on Australian roads for the first time in November.

Under that scheme, the state would partner with a number of motor vehicle manufacturers and technology companies such as Telstra to test out the new technology in early trials.

The initiative is being led by the Australian Road Research Board (ARRB), which said at the time that the aim was to apply international research to the local road environment and seek to understand what would be required to make driverless technology appropriate for Australian roads.

ARRB Group Managing Director Gerard Waldron said then that automated vehicles were far from science fiction, but rather a short-term reality that Australia needed to be prepared for.

Image credit: Volvo


  1. OK, the forward thinking is good, ACT is becoming famous for this.

    And we can’t really fault the beta testing, because–as Google found the hard way–engineers don’t always factor humans into the equations. I was watching an episode of “The Good Wife” recently, astounded that it had dropped to silly SF with a plotline involving driverless cars being bumped out of the way by human-guided vehicles. I didn’t know then that Google was having this very problem at the time of the script being written…

    So I sincerely hope the ACT government is “only” providing a substantial private road facility for this testing. Personally I think I would have very few concerns taking my personal ride into such a facility, bearing in mind I would know in advance that a computer may completely mis-read my human failings. And it seems that no driverless car has ever totalled a human-controlled vehicle. I wouldn’t ride a bike there but.

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