Government, privacy and automated trucks

Addressing the privacy challenges of government access to information generated by automated vehicles and specific transport network technology is the subject of a discussion paper released by the National Transport Commission (NTC).
“Cooperative intelligent transport systems (C-ITS) and automated vehicle technology are producing new data and information. We need to examine whether Australia’s current privacy and information access framework sufficiently covers this new data,” said NTC’s acting chief executive Dr Geoff Allan.
He said the technology included in these new systems might generate in-cabin image data, location and route data, and data from biometric or health sensors.
“Governments will need to access automated vehicle and C-ITS information for purposes including the safety regulation of automated vehicles, optimising road networks and enforcing road laws,” Dr Allan said. “However, government access to the type, breadth and depth of personal or sensitive information generated by C-ITS and automated vehicle technology presents a privacy challenge. We currently have different protections in place in different states and territories. We need to have an appropriate framework in place to protect Australians’ privacy.”
The NTC’s discussion paper identifies three categories of new privacy challenges, and outlines options to address these as they relate to automated vehicle and C-ITS technology. The paper’s scope is based on previous recommendations agreed by transport ministers. The paper does not examine private sector access to data.
Academics from the University of NSW have completed an independent legal research report to examine the application of Australia’s existing information access framework to inform the discussion paper.
The NTC invites submissions from information and privacy commissions, state and territory transport agencies, enforcement and justice agencies, industry, academics and individuals.
Submissions can be made online via the NTC’s website at ntc.gov.au/submissions. Submissions close on 22 November 2018, with recommendations due to Australian transport ministers in May 2019.
 

How should we change laws for automated trucks?

The National Transport Commission (NTC) is asking road transport agencies, police, and industry to provide input on how Australian governments should amend driver laws to facilitate the introduction of automated vehicles.
The NTC has released a discussion paper Changing driving laws to support automated vehicles that seeks to clarify how current driver and driving laws apply to automated vehicles and who would be legally responsible for their operation.
Chief executive of the NTC Paul Retter said current driving laws were developed before automated vehicles were envisaged. They therefore assume the driver is a human.
“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,” Mr Retter said.
“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.”
This work is one of seven projects—five of which are being led by the NTC and a further two led by the states/territories but for which the NTC is coordinating the findings and subsequent ministerial recommendations. These projects were approved by ministers in November 2016 as part of the NTC’s roadmap of reform to support the commercial deployment of automated vehicles.
“We have been tasked with identifying, and if necessary, removing, legislative impediments to automated vehicles. 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,” Mr Retter said.
The NTC’s discussion paper raises 14 questions relating to current driver laws. The key question is:
Should driving laws change to allow an automated driving system (ADS) to drive — rather than a human — and ensure that an entity is responsible for the actions of the vehicle when the ADS is driving?
The NTC is seeking feedback on options to reform laws to achieve this and other issues that arise if the ADS is legally permitted to drive.
Submissions for this discussion paper are open until 4pm, Friday, 24 November 2017 via the NTC website.
This project is closely aligned to the NTC’s work on developing a safety assurance system. The outcomes of the safety assurance work will also inform the recommendations of this project.
Following consultation on this paper, the NTC will present reform options to transport ministers in May 2018.
 
 

Why supply chains will be reshaped by 2025

Emerging advancements in technology such as autonomous trucks, 3D printing and warehouse automation will foster changes in how shippers, retailers and manufacturers configure their supply chains and distribution strategies, spurring a need for different formats and locations for industrial real estate, according to a new report from CBRE Group.
Taken together, these advancements will encourage industrial users to modernise their networks to adapt to the fast-evolving market rather than requiring them to add more or fewer warehouses and distribution centres. Each of these technology categories are on track to reach widespread use by 2025.
“Autonomous vehicles, 3D printing and warehouse automation stand to reshape supply chains on an unprecedented scale, but real estate won’t be innovated out of that equation,” said David Egan, CBRE’s Head of Industrial & Logistics Research in the Americas. “While use of autonomous vehicles in shipping likely will allow for a greater emphasis on a few massive distribution centers in far-flung, less expensive locations, 3D printing meanwhile will result in many users needing more industrial space closer to customers to facilitate on-demand, custom manufacturing.”
The CBRE report includes in-depth examinations of each of the three areas of technological advancement and their likely impact on the industrial and logistics markets.

  • Autonomous trucking: Labor represents roughly 75 percent of the cost of shipping a full truckload across the US, and drivers are limited to 70 hours of driving a week, equating to 3,000 miles. The advent of autonomous vehicles will allow cargo to travel greater distances in less time, saving costs. This, in turn, will allow some users to operate more extensively from large distribution centres in outlying locations, where land is less expensive.
  • 3D Printing: The ability to manufacture certain items on-demand will spur a horizontal shift in the supply chain. Whereas this advancement may lessen the need for centralised distribution space in some cases, it also increases the requirement for bulk, raw materials to be stored at printing sites close to the consumer in last-mile distribution facilities.
  • Automation in industrial facilities: A greater use of robots and other automated technology stands to reduce labor costs and increase efficiency. However, it also will stoke demand for modernized industrial buildings equipped to accommodate the design requirements and IT infrastructure of automation.
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