From the AMC: Towards 2020: Vital Next Phase of Automated Vehicle Regulation Approved

This is a guest posting from Guy Stanford from the Australian Motorcycle Council


What is proper control of a vehicle?

The big question is WHO is liable in the case of a crash with an automated vehicle (property damage and injury compensation).

Many road authority administrators believe that replacing humans with robots will solve all the problems of crashes – by removing the unreliable human.
This has a lot of appeal to the road safety people and a number of them are nothing short of gaggin’ for it, as it means they can finally make themselves relevant.

It appears that many politicos in the road safety area have been well lunched by the vendors of automated vehicles and may have a rosy-eyed view.
The risk is that policy may become tilted in favour of robots and against the ordinary road user.
PARTICULARLY for motorcyclists.

Motorcycle detection technology is quite backward.

e.g. it has been proposed that motorcycles be required to carry a transponder so that automated vehicles can more readily detect them; this must be vigorously opposed on several grounds.

  • Firstly, economic grounds.
  • It would mean that “regulatory protection” has been granted to the vendors of automated vehicles, allowing the vendors to project their business risk onto the road using public (including push bikes and strollers).

  • Secondly, technology grounds.
  • The need for detection technology would be shelved (saving the vendors development costs).
    Robotic cars would rely entirely on the transponder (which may not work reliably, or simply fail due to the high-vibration environment of a motorcycle – as do many items already in service).

  • Thirdly, privacy grounds.
  • Detection beacons would become a feature of every major street corner, identifying every motorcycle as to time, place, speed, frequency, company kept, etc.

The latest report from the NTC seems to focus on ONE aspect only of the steady move towards sharing the road with autonomous and partially autonomous vehicles.

We need to keep reading, tracking policy development as well as tracking the thinking of administrators attempting to implement that policy.
Identifying the relevant policy wonks in each jurisdiction would be useful.

The big problem will be “scope creep”.
(when a basic item agreed to, is used to justify a more invasive or one-party favourable aspect)
The common problem will be narrow minded thinking focused only on cars or heavy transport.

We need to raise our profile as motorcyclists at the highest levels of policy steering.
(as noted by Shaun at the AGM, the TIC includes representatives of cars, trucks, buses, but not motorcycles)

If we fail to protest errors or wrong-headed directions at each development point, we fail as motorcycle advocates.
(remember, we are NOT “lobbyists”)
There are broad societal impacts ahead. This is really important.

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