Regulating Emerging Technologies

About the report

Regulating Emerging Technologies investigates how better regulation can seize the opportunities from emerging technologies. Building on research by the Centre for International Economics (CIE) and the NSW Productivity Commission’s White Paper—Rebooting the economy, the report focuses on three emerging technologies—personal mobility devices, e-bikes, and drones—which have the potential to transform the movement of people and goods.  

The report also develops principles that are broadly applicable to a range of current and future emerging technologies.

Key findings 

  • Emerging technologies present opportunities to improve the way we live and work. Regulators, however, often struggle to keep pace with new or rapidly evolving technologies, creating barriers to their use. A bold, forward-looking approach is needed: regulations should be outcomes-focused, regularly reviewed, and make use of regulatory trials.

  • Drones, e-bikes, and personal mobility devices are three areas ripe for forward-looking regulatory change. Drones offer opportunities to make work in a range of industries, from farming to construction, safer and more efficient. Simplifying the regulations for drone use in a low-risk agricultural setting could deliver up to $500 million in net benefits for NSW in today’s dollars by 2041. The NSW Government should work with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority to trial alternative drone rules in priority sectors, starting with agriculture.

  • Personal mobility devices, such as e-scooters offer a more environmentally sustainable way to travel compared to cars and motorbikes. They can also reduce congestion where they replace car trips and get people where they need to go faster, driving productivity improvements for our cities and regions.

  • Revising NSW laws that currently restrict the use of all personal mobility devices to private property would bring NSW into line with other jurisdictions and provide up to $87 million in net benefits by 2041.  A trial of personal mobility devices would help test and refine regulatory approaches while addressing safety risks.

  • Adjusting e-bike regulation could also pave the way for less congestion on our roads, cheaper deliveries by our booming e-commerce sector, and lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Starting the conversation about the right regulatory settings now will position us to benefit from future innovation and deliver better economic, social, and environmental outcomes for the people of NSW.