Australia in the slow lane on autonomous vehicles

Australia ranks only 14th (out of 20 countries rated) in its preparedness for autonomous vehicles, according to a new report.

KPMG’s new global ‘Autonomous Vehicles Readiness Index’ report rates four factors for autonomous vehicles (AVs) readiness. Australia scores reasonably well on AV-related policy and legislation, but after the demise of local vehicle manufacturing, rates very poorly on technology and innovation. It rates around the middle of the pack on infrastructure and consumer acceptance.

“In May 2017 Australia issued national guidelines for trials of AVs on its roads, with these requiring specific exemptions from state and territory governments,” says the report

“At present the law says that an automated driving system cannot be the driver of an AV, meaning that although a vehicle may be partially automated, the human occupant will need to be the legal ‘driver’, be held responsible for any incident that may occur while in control of the vehicle and must exercise proper control over the vehicle at all times.

“On technology and innovation, Australia has few AV technology company headquarters and patents. The research found no relevant investments and few Australians drive electric cars, although it receives credit for a strong Uber presence and for general availability of technology.

“AV trials are taking place or are planned in several cities, including Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide. On infrastructure, Australia receives the maximum score for the quality of its mobile networks, but only middling ratings for the quality of its roads and availability of 4G. And it has very few electric charging stations.

“The country is very highly rated for people’s use of technology by KPMG’s Change Readiness Index, but few people live in test areas and consumer research suggests Australians are fairly cynical about AV technology.”

Australia needs to lift its game, says KPMG Australia’s Paul Low. “AVs are one of the major disrupters hitting the transport system in the next ten years in Australia. Others include road pricing, mobility as a service and increasing contestability in public transport operations.

“These will drive different institutional and regulatory structures that will challenge the historical model of transport agencies with their focus on infrastructure development and system regulation.”

The report is available here.


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