Commonwealth Criminal Law and Interference with Automated Vehicles

Mark Brady, Andry Rakotonirainy, Kieran Tranter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The computer-controlled nature of contemporary road vehicles has reached a point where the in-vehicle computer control system manages a significant proportion of motor vehicle dynamic operation. In highly automated vehicles the automated driving system (ADS), undertakes the dynamic driving functions and overarching responsibility for the vehicle's journey. Central to Australia's future road transport system is the reliable operation of ADSs. ADS are networked, transmitting, and receiving data. This is a weakness that could be exploited to cause harm to individuals or the transport system. This article examines whether the Commonwealth criminal law is adequate for protecting against, or deterring from, unauthorised interference with ADSs. Three scenarios of interference are investigated. Scenario 1 is the intentional unauthorised interference with an ADS to cause harm. Scenario 2 involves unknowingly uploading of software containing harmful malware to an ADS. Scenario 3 is a third party installing unauthorised spyware on an ADS. This article argues that overall Commonwealth criminal law, specifically the "cybercrime'' offences relating to unauthorised and malicious interference with computer systems, appear able to apply to various forms of interference with ADSs
Original languageUndefined
Pages (from-to)271-296
Number of pages26
JournalCriminal Law Journal
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes

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