CBR puts it’s hand up for autonomous vehicle trials

Released 08/03/2016

Canberra has a compelling case to play the lead role developing autonomous vehicles in Australia.

Today in the ACT Legislative Assembly, I will outline why Canberra offers the right legislative, geographic and cultural environment for safe trials. I have written to leaders in the field to encourage them to consider Canberra for the first meaningful trials of the technology in Australia.

Autonomous vehicles are not a solution to the world’s congestion problems - they are still cars on our roads. They will never replace public mass transit, but they can be part of our transport network within a decade. Driverless technology has huge potential for our city, and leaders in the field are welcome here.

The case to test these vehicles in the ACT is strong.

We’re already ahead of the game: we can allow trials of autonomous vehicles on ACT roads under our current Road Transport legislation. We don’t need more regulation to get autonomous cars on our roads. The experience overseas is that rushing to regulate leads to rules that are quickly overtaken by technology and lock jurisdictions out of the autonomous car market.

Badly thought out regulations copied from other places also risks ruling out all the advantages this technology could bring. Regulation which requires licenced drivers in autonomous cars would mean the people for whom this technology will make the greatest difference – people who cannot drive – would be locked out.

The ACT Government has a track record of working with innovative companies to respond quickly to technology. Our nation-leading ride share legislation meant we were the first legal environment in Australia for services like Uber to operate, and the first capital city in the world to do so before Uber began operating.

Our excellent and diverse roads in a relatively small area mean we can offer testing in all kinds of settings: from built-up urban environments to country roads, from open freeways to suburban backstreets and pedestrian shareways to industrial estates.

Minister for Road Safety Shane Rattenbury said that Canberrans are smart people who would embrace the new technology.

“The most obvious benefit of a future that incorporates autonomous vehicles is the prospect of improving safety on our roads. On average over the last decade there have been 13 deaths per year on ACT roads, and around 700 injuries,” Minister Rattenbury said.

 “The technology could also bring benefits to people who currently can’t drive, such as people with a disability or the elderly. Some members of our community miss out on what our city offers and we should explore any opportunity for increasing social inclusion.

“Of course driverless vehicle technology can also integrate with our public transport network, or public transport vehicles could themselves be driverless”, said Mr Rattenbury.

- Statement ends -

Section: Andrew Barr, MLA | Media Releases

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