Governments told to be ready for start of driverless revolution by 2020

Aug 24, 2016 – The driverless vehicle revolution will test the value of private car ownership and road-based public transport, and have a dramatic impact on everything from motor vehicle registration revenues to city planning and health spending, according to the key players in Australia’s land transport sector.

Leaders from federal and state road and transport agencies, motoring clubs, local government and engineering and industry groups met in Brisbane yesterday to consider how government and industry can better collaborate to ensure a smooth transition to the world of connected and automated vehicles.

The Summit was convened by Austroads, Roads Australia and Queensland Transport and Main Roads, and came on the back of this month’s Transport and Infrastructure Council (TIC) meeting of state, territory and federal transport ministers that agreed to a National Policy Framework for Land Transport Technology.

Participants at yesterday’s Summit were told Australian states and territories had to be ready to support the safe deployment of partially automated vehicles on public roads before 2020, and highly automated and driverless vehicles within the ensuing decade.

They agreed on a way forward that addressed three key principles:

·       achieve national consistency around the regulation and operation of connected and automated vehicles,

·       lay down the ground rules early, before the horse bolts, and

·       understand the value chain created by automated vehicles, and how it will be captured.

Austroads Deputy Chair, Neil Scales, said the National Policy Framework agreed to by TIC ministers demonstrated that government’s already recognised the imperative for a co-ordinated policy and regulatory response.

 “What is clear after yesterday’s Summit is that this process needs to embrace a far broader range of stakeholders than just transport. It potentially reaches into every area of government and business spending and service delivery.

AV’s will change our lives, as well as our businesses.”

Roads Australia President, David Stuart-Watt, said existing concepts of vehicle ownership and road-based public transport would likely be challenged by the arrival of AVs.

“Vehicle manufacturers are already taking steps to adjust to the likely changes to the traditional car ownership model,” he said.

“Only this month, it was reported that Ford in the United States was planning to build a fleet of driverless cars for ride-sharing services by 2021, which it (Ford) would potentially own and maintain on their behalf.

“If we have a fleet of connected and automated vehicles running continuously on our road networks and offering economical fares, why would you want to own a car yourself? And why would you drive your own car to a car park to jump on a train when an AV could take you to the station and probably negate the need to own that car?

 “If that is the case, what happens to the revenues governments have traditionally collected from these sources?”

Mr Stuart-Watt said automated vehicle technology also promised to significantly reduce, if not eliminate, road deaths and injuries.

“This will free up the nearly $30 billion we spend each year on road trauma for other areas of health research and treatment.  It will also change how we deliver health services to the aged, for example.”

Download the communique from yesterday’s Summit here.

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