Law change is needed to ensure autonomous vehicles can be used legally on New Zealand roads, a major Law Foundation study has found.
Study author Michael Cameron says a complete overhaul of law and policy around driverless vehicles is required, with targeted reform needed more urgently.
“Certain types of driverless vehicles, such as the taxi fleets being deployed by General Motors next year, may not legally be allowed on New Zealand roads, regardless of how safe they are,” says Cameron.
“Law change to reduce this uncertainty is desirable soon if New Zealand wants to ensure the life-saving benefits of driverless technology are not needlessly delayed. Such change would help New Zealand become a leader in driverless technology, with all the economic benefits that would entail.
“As we have shown with rockets in the North Island and autonomous air taxis in the South, our country can contribute to the development of world-beating technology – but only if we have receptive laws.”
He says that despite recent publicity over the first pedestrian death involving a driverless vehicle, the safety of all road users will ultimately be improved by full adoption of the new technology.
“Many hope that driverless vehicles will eliminate traffic accidents, end congestion, spark economic growth and provide cheap and convenient mobility for all. But countries that want to fully realise these benefits, and avoid the pitfalls, will need to ensure their legal houses are in order,” he says.
Also, driverless vehicle manufacturers should prepare safety assessments for New Zealand, as they do in the United States, so our authorities can better utilise existing consumer protection and land transport rules to protect the public.
Click here to read the full report.