Australia could unlock $95 billion a year in economic value and generate 16,000 new jobs by taking a more proactive approach to the introduction of autonomous vehicles in Australia, according to an economic analysis by Australia’s peak driverless vehicle organisation.
The report, authored by economist Brian Haratsis, executive chairman of the Australian Driverless Vehicle Initiative’s (ADVI) program partner MacroPlanDimasi, argues a coordinated industry- and government-led approach is needed to mitigate the risks of rapid uncontrolled autonomous vehicle adoption from 2020.
“This country is in need of a clear government-mandated roadmap for the rollout of automated vehicle technology to ensure we maximise the social, environmental and economic benefits automation can bring,” Mr Haratsis said.
“We have the high-tech research, design, testing and manufacturing capabilities to make us a leading exporter of mobility services and technology across the APAC region. By taking first-mover advantage in this emerging global industry, we can not only mitigate the forecast 40,000 jobs to be lost in car manufacturing, but create a new specialised high-tech export market.”
“If the average $2 billion in assistance to car manufacturers between 1997 and 2012 were invested in intelligent mobility, direct employment could be doubled from 7,500 to 15,000. Add that to the estimated baseline $80 billion economic saving from improved road safety and congestion thanks to autonomous vehicle technology, and the incentives for swift and decisive action are clear.”
The report found growing Australia’s stake in the global intelligent mobility sector from 0.25% to 1% would inject $15 billion into the economy and create 7,500 direct jobs and an additional 8,500 indirect jobs. Mr Haratsis said a prime example of the sector’s growth potential was the more than 75 ADVI partner organisations collaborating on driverless technology, many of which were already leading the world in research and deployment.
ADVI is advocating for the development of a five-year funding and incentive package focused on research, development, demonstration and deployment similar to the UK’s £100m (AUD $177m) Intelligent Mobility Fund, which is predicted to fast-track £900b (AUD$1.6 trillion) in productivity benefits.
The report cites research predicting shared autonomous vehicles will account for 10% of vehicle sales by 2030 and 30% of all kilometres travelled, with each shared vehicle replacing around eleven conventional vehicles.
“Transitioning from a society of car ownership to car sharing will have significant benefits for road congestion and the environment,” Mr Haratsis said. “It’s also the much needed catalyst for changes to outdated funding mechanisms, including fuel excises, registration and licensing fees.”
“The research shows our cities will see a 15-20% increase in land use efficiency through car park and road infrastructure reductions so it’s important that town planners, designers and engineers understand the implications automation will bring so they can start preparing now.”
“For example, we need to ensure driverless vehicles integrate with our public transport options for ‘last mile journeys’ and we still encourage active people-powered travel within our cities so we don’t cause a congestion spike from autonomous vehicles shuttling commuters around in high volume environments.”
The ADVI believes that the Commonwealth Government should prepare and explore mechanisms to fund and manage the introduction of autonomous vehicles on the following basis:
- To maximise employment outcomes targeting 20,000 new jobs by 2025.
- To maximise the social and economic benefits of introducing AV’s in Australia.
- To maximise the technology spin-off industries in Australia.
- To put Australia in a competitive position to export mobility services expertise.
- To maximise the productivity of existing transport infrastructure.
- Create a new funding mechanism to replace the outdated system of shadow taxes, including fuel excises, registration, licensing fees etc.
- To create the opportunity to develop a new industry based on the delivery of a best of breed ‘mobility ecosystem.
- Assess whether Australia should own or invest in AV system control to collect, filter and interpret data and to make ethical decisions in emergency situations.
- To encourage vehicles to become electric, connected and automated.
The key concept is an AV ‘rollout’ program off-budget similar to NBN with an institutional structure similar to NBN in order:
- To manage the operational characteristics, ownership funding and maintenance of the AV operating system.
- To ensure that patents required to develop the AV operating system are developed and owned in Australia.