Connected and Automated Vehicles

Australian transport authorities and industry are actively developing Connected and Automated Vehicle (CAV) technology. This emerging transport technology has the potential to transform mobility in Australia and internationally.

The global autonomous driving market is forecast to be worth US$173.15 billion by 203010 and Australia is committed to leveraging these technologies to improve the safety, efficiency and sustainability of its transport system.

Australia has commenced a wide range of connected (using both cellular V2X and DSRC) and automated vehicle trials. It also has a nationally consistent and principles-based approach to the timely deployment of emerging transport technologies11, including CAVs.

Australian trials and policy developments

In May 2017, Australian transport ministers agreed to the Guidelines for Trials of Automated Vehicles in Australia. The Guidelines provide a clear and nationally consistent approach that balances safety and innovation.

Watch the National Transport Commission's video below summarising the regulatory reforms for automated vehicles.

Examples of transport technology trials in Australia by state and territory include:

  1. The Australian Capital Territory Government is supporting a two-year trial that will include testing driver monitoring systems on 40 residents driving semi-automated vehicles for up to two weeks at a time.
  2. New South Wales is trialling automated vehicles on Sydney's major motorways. Motorway operator Transurban and some of the world's leading carmakers will take part in the project to ensure NSW roads work with new life-saving vehicle automation technologies, and lay the foundation for automated vehicles of the future.12
  3. The Northern Territory is trialling an automated, electric bus on the Darwin Waterfront Precinct in 2018. Now in its second stage, the vehicle is moving people to and from restaurants and shops in the area.
  4. In Queensland, the state government is planning the largest on-road testing trial seen in Australia. The project has four components: the Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems (C-ITS) pilot; the Cooperative and Highly Automated Driving (CHAD) pilot; the Vulnerable Road User pilot; and Change Management.13
  5. South Australia was the first state in Australia to showcase automated technology, in a 2015 trial with Volvo featuring automated software. The state is also testing automated electric shuttles at Adelaide Airport, Flinders University and Tonsley Park. The state government is also about to trial a 10-passenger automated shuttle on the beachfront at Glenelg, a one-kilometre trip along automated stops. South Australian company SAGE Automation will partner with US manufacturer Local Motors to run the $1.6 million trial.
  6. The Victorian government-led two-year trial of semi-autonomous vehicles on Melbourne's EastLink began by introducing new laws. The test, which will involve partial automated technology, aims to inform the development of regulations and infrastructure for wider self-driving technology. It follows a $1.2 million investment from the Victorian Government to build its own vehicle with self-driving capabilities in partnership with Bosch, TAC and VicRoads.
  7. Western Australia has partnered with the RAC to run an automated bus for trial by residents on public roads since 2016. More recently, the government announced that Perth would be one of three cities in the world to host a trial of new electric-powered autonomous vehicles, produced by French company Navya.

Transport technology trials across Australia

Transport technology trials across Australia

A full list of trials is available on the Austroads website.

In addition to world-leading developments across individual states, Australia is investing in and facilitating the appropriate infrastructure for CAVs with Austroads, the peak organisation for Australasian road agencies. This includes a range of projects that investigate the operational requirements to support automated vehicles, including physical and digital infrastructure needs.

Automated vehicle levels

Level 1 and 2

Automated Vehicles Level 1 and Level 2
  • Vehicle assists with driving
  • Person watches the road with hands on steering wheel and intervenes when required
  • Adaptive cruise control and traffic jam assist

Level 3

Automated Vehicles Level 3
  • Vehicle drives itself some of the time
  • Person not required to watch the road but, in some circumstances, must respond to requests to take back control
  • Future vehicles with highway autopilot

Level 4

Automated Vehicles Level 4
  • Vehicle drives itself some of the time
  • Person not required to take action when the system is driving
  • Future vehicles that are 'driverless' on some routes

Level 5

Automated Vehicles Level 5
  • Vehicle drives itself all of the time
  • Person is never required to take action
  • Fully driverless

Credit: Infographic courtesy of Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities


Australia's communication networks can support both Dedicated Short-Range Communications (DSRC) and Long-Term Evolution (LTE) direct technology deployment. According to the GSMA Mobile Connectivity Index 2016, Australia is the leading performer out of 134 countries against the key enablers of mobile connectivity – infrastructure, affordability, consumer readiness and content.14

The 5G network is currently under development, but is expected to be launched commercially in Australia from 2019. This step-change in mobile connectivity will enable many safety applications through improved bandwidth, energy efficiency, reliability and latency.

The Australian Government is supporting the deployment of 5G networks by making spectrum available in a timely manner, reviewing existing telecommunications regulatory arrangements to ensure they are fit-for-purpose and streamlining arrangements to allow mobile carriers to deploy infrastructure more quickly.

Next-generation satellites

Australia is well located to conduct connected and automated vehicle trials and deployments requiring positioning accuracy and availability, as it has visibility of all next-generation Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) satellites, as well as two Regional Navigation Satellite Systems (RNSS).15 This means Australia has very high continuity and availability of satellite signals, enabling accurate and reliable positioning.

The Australian Government has recently committed $160.9 million to improve positioning accuracy and availability. It will deliver a Satellite-Based Augmentation System (SBAS), the technology underpinning GPS, to improve the reliability and accuracy of positioning data across Australia and its maritime zone from five metres to 10 centimetres.

A further $64 million being invested in the National Positioning Infrastructure Capability (NPIC) will complement SBAS, to improve GPS to an accuracy as precise as three centimetres in areas of Australia with access to mobile coverage.

Open standards–based technology

A key principle underpinning Australia's approach is enabling interoperable, open standards-based technology which is vendor-neutral. This means Australia will be open to the range of communication platforms, including both DSRC and cellular V2X, and both are under trial in Australia. All levels of Australian governments are working together to ensure that connected vehicles in Australia are interoperable, regardless of the applications or ITS stations being used. This will be achieved through a domestically consistent and internationally harmonised approach to standards, as well as enforcing compliance as these emerging tensions are resolved.

Cyber security and data

Australian road agencies welcome the opportunity to support the data input needs of connected and automated vehicle trials. Road agencies are already providing Signal, Phase and Timing data (SPaT) to support current trials.

Australian governments have made a commitment to an open-by-default approach to transport data, and other datasets may be made available on request.

Australian governments also recognise that cyber security is critical to the safe and effective deployment of connected and automated vehicles. Organisations that deploy connected and automated vehicles are responsible for cyber security, both in trials and deployment. This includes government organisations providing data from roadside infrastructure.

Regulatory reform

The National Transport Commission (NTC), an independent adviser to Australian transport ministers, is undertaking a phased regulatory reform program. The NTC aims to remove regulatory barriers to automated vehicles and advises Australian governments on end-to-end regulation, embracing innovation and ensuring automated vehicles are safely deployed.

Organisations seeking to deploy connected and automated vehicle technologies in Australia will be required to comply with the Australian Privacy Principles, which regulate the handling of personal information about individuals by businesses and not-for-profit organisations with an annual turnover of more than $3 million.

Further information on the Australian Privacy Principles and privacy rights and responsibilities in Australia is available through the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.