The Autonomous Vehicle Readiness Index shows which countries are most prepared for driverless cars. Can autonomous vehicles become a reality in Australia?
The 2018 KPMG Autonomous Vehicles (AV) Readiness Index is the first study of its kind, examining how 20 selected nations rate in terms of progress and capacity for adapting AV technology. The Index evaluates each country according to four pillars that are integral to the adoption and integration of autonomous vehicles: policy & legislation, technology & innovation, infrastructure and consumer acceptance.
Overall, Australia ranks 14th out of 20 in the 2018 KPMG Autonomous Vehicles Readiness Index.
Australia scores reasonably well on AV-related policy and legislation, while on infrastructure we receive a maximum score for the quality of our mobile networks.
"AV's are one of the major disrupters hitting the transport system in the next 10 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."
— Paul Low, Partner, Management Consulting
But we have a middle ranking for the quality of our roads and availability of 4G and currently, importantly, we have very few electric charging stations.
A key issue specific to Australia is our federation. It is crucial state and federal authorities collaborate so we can establish a universal platform to support AV transitioning across the nation.
Do we prioritise consumer choice or do we believe there is more economic opportunity in a deliberate strategy to introduce AVs into high value fleets (e.g. freight and logistics) or corridors (e.g. key motorways)?
Getting this over-arching strategy right will create consumer and investor confidence by giving certainty on where we are headed. It will also determine the regulatory model we need.
The market scale in Australia doesn’t rival much of the world, but we can match the innovation achieved in other countries as long as the policy and regulatory settings are right.
While high price is often mentioned as a reason for the low take-up of electric cars in Australia, the cost of automated and electric vehicles is already declining rapidly and will in the near future be comparable to an average sedan now (i.e. around $30k).
The lack of charging infrastructure is a big issue. We commend the approach of the Victorian Government which asked for independent advice from Infrastructure Victoria on the charging and other infrastructure required to enable the implementation of the automated and zero emission vehicles in that state.
Similar detailed research is needed across Australia as regions have different infrastructure requirements, driven in part by varying socio-economic groups and urban development patterns.
To facilitate the growth of autonomous vehicles we urge the commonwealth and state governments to take relevant actions to safeguard the liveability and productivity of our cities in the autonomous era.
These actions include:
Planning today for an AV future is essential, because it is not a question of if, but when AVs become ubiquitous in Australia. Embracing partnerships between government and the private sector can speed technology development, while helping ensure that the use of autonomous vehicles meets public policy objectives.
It is important to engage all stakeholders, government, business and citizens, with AV planning, as, in the future, it will impact all aspects of life.