What you need to know
AVs — also known as driverless or self-driving cars — use technology to partially or entirely replace the human driver. The vehicle can navigate to its destination while avoiding road hazards and responding to traffic conditions. Some maritime vessels and aircrafts (including drones) also use autonomous technology.
AV technology has the potential to trigger significant transformation in the transport system. Trials of AVs are underway around the world (including in New Zealand), and opinions vary on when highly automated vehicles will be widely available. Many modern vehicles have limited automated features that may assist the driver with speed or steering control, such as lane-keep assist or adaptive cruise control.
We seek to understand how new technologies contribute to transport outcomes, such as influencing travel choices, congestion, reducing the road toll, or improving the liveability of our cities.
We are currently developing a long-term insights briefing on the impact of autonomous vehicles operating on New Zealand roads. Long-term Insights Briefings (LTIB) are future focussed documents that are intended to provide greater visibility of future challenges and opportunities that may affect New Zealand and New Zealand society. The Ministry has chosen to investigate the impact automated vehicles could have on the transport system and transport outcomes. This is an opportunity to take a “deep dive” into a specific area of transport that we believe will present significant challenges and opportunities for the transport system over the next 10-15 years.
What we are working on
We have identified specific topics as important to the operation of AVs in New Zealand and are exploring them through a series of short and sharp ‘snapshot’ papers to encourage evidenced-based discussion and debate. These are aligned to the areas of focus in other jurisdictions such as those in Australia, the United Kingdom, Singapore and Canada.
Who we are working with
Building and maintaining a network of key relationships is vital to ensuring the Ministry and the sector are well prepared to respond to issues as they arise. This includes working with other government departments, technology developers, academics, and our counterparts in other jurisdictions.
AVs in New Zealand
New Zealand legislation does not specifically require a driver to be present for a vehicle to be legally operated on a public road. However, most regulations and relevant international frameworks strongly imply the presence of a driver in the vehicle given that ‘automation’ was not a consideration at the time of drafting the legislation.
AVs and the transport system
We are considering the potential impacts of AVs on the future transport system in New Zealand, including both opportunities and risks. We will identify trends and potential issues surrounding the deployment of AVs on public roads, and consider how to best support the safe introduction of AVs onto public roads.