How will self-driving cars affect riders?

V2V vehicle to vehicle communications automated vehicles driverless self-driving

Riders have been invited to make submissions on road rules about the coming revolution of automated self-driving vehicles.

The National Transport Commission (NTC) is considering how Australian governments should amend driver laws to facilitate the introduction of automated vehicles.

However, their press release said they were asking road transport agencies, police, and industry to  make submissions. No mention of motorcyclists or rider representative groups.

When asked about the omission, they said all members of the public, including riders, could make submissions. You can send your submissions via email.

Vital issue of rider safety

The issue of automated vehicles is vital for riders as one female motorcyclist has already been hit by a self-driving Tesla S being tested in Norway.

The NTC has released a discussion paper Changing driving laws to support automated vehicles which seeks to clarify how current driver and driving laws apply to automated vehicles and who would be legally responsible for their operation.

The document makes no reference to riders except: “The model Australian Road Rules provide the following definition of a ‘driver’: A driver is the person who is driving a vehicle (except a motor bike, bicycle, animal or animal-drawn vehicle).”

NTC Chief Executive Paul Retter says current driving laws were developed before automated vehicles were envisaged, assuming the driver is human.Automated vehicles Truck self-driving

“The introduction of more automated vehicles will see elements of the driving task shift away from the human driver to the automated driving system but our laws currently don’t recognise these systems,” he says.

“We need to ensure that relevant driving laws apply to automated vehicles when the automated driving system—rather than the human driver—is operating the vehicle.”

Autonomous motorcycles

The NTC also fails to mention that motorcycles may also become self-riding vehicles.

BMW, Honda and Yamaha have already produced motorcycles that are either self-balancing or ride themselves.

“We have been tasked with identifying, and if necessary, removing, legislative impediments to automated vehicles,” Paul says.

“But we must also maintain the intent of existing laws—to ensure the safe operation of vehicles on Australian roads.

“Legislation must recognise a legal entity that can be held responsible for the automated driving system,” he says.

Submissions for this discussion paper are open until 4pm, Friday, November 24, 2017, via the NTC website.

Following consultation on this paper, the NTC will present reform options to transport ministers in May 2018.

10 Comments

  1. So this means that you don’t need a drivers licence????
    Blame the car! “sorry officer I was reading the paper at the time”.

  2. At least the AI will never:
    – try to put their make-up on at 80km/h,
    – put their phone across their speedo so they can use facetime in peak hour traffic,
    – try to juggle hot chips, a large coke and a ciggy in peak hour traffic,
    – get angry with you for filtering past,

    and a hundred other dumb and distracting things that people are currently doing.

    And the 14 collisions involving Google’s test cars? 13 of the 14 were caused by human drivers in other cars!

  3. But here’s the thing, you don’t need autonomously driven vehicles to be perfect, you only need them to be better than people on average. If that ends up being a fact then there is no reason to prevent it. As far as the law goes, it will play catch-up like it always does.

  4. A failure of the AI in a self driving car will be a design flaw and will come under the same liability as any design flaw that results in an accident.
    If driverless vehicles remain robotic in their actions and adhere to the road rules as ordinary drivers should they will be a lot safer for motorcyclists to deal with as they will be entirely predictable, unlike most drivers who will turn across multiple lanes of traffic without looking to get to an exit they are about to miss. the only addition to the design of a self driving vehicle I recommend is the fitting of a prominent red to green light on the top and front of the vehicle. This light will be red when stopped but not parked and will flash green when the vehicle decides to advance or change lanes.
    Riders look at a drivers face for cues as to what their next action will be so without a driver this light will be needed to give riders and other road users an idea as to what the vehicle is planning on doing over and above normal indicators and brake lights, this will be even more needed if the move to make the AIs more human like and aggressive. Current AIs get stuck at intersections due to human drivers not following the proper road rules an edicate, so there are moves to have them barge into intersections and merge ways like humans do.

  5. I got one question

    In the event of a crash by a self driving vehicle, will it be an insurance problem or a warranty issue?

    Have fun with that one lawmakers…..

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