Now in its third year, the 2020 Autonomous Vehicles Readiness Index (AVRI) ranks 30 countries on 28 key indicators of autonomous vehicle preparedness. Australia has successfully maintained its position for the second year in a row, ranking 15th in the world, and is steadily developing a supportive environment for autonomous vehicles.
In the survey, Australia was one of just four countries to receive the highest possible score for its autonomous vehicle regulations as authorities have increased their focus on the regulatory and societal acceptance enablers of the technology. Our states, territories and federal governments were early in reforming laws to facilitate future use of autonomous vehicles and this work is continuing under the auspices of the National Transport Commission’s Automated Vehicle Program.[i]
Examples of Australia’s commitment to a future that supports and encourages autonomous vehicles include:
What we have seen in the last 12 to 18 months is a lot more autonomous vehicle related activity at the state level, particularly from the infrastructure perspective.
Australia’s strengths lie in its regulatory environment, its willingness to consider autonomy in infrastructure projects and policies, and the range of trials that are being undertaken across the nation. However, more could be done by companies and organizations involved in the autonomous vehicle sector to engage the public in advance of the technology being widely available. “The industry tends to be passive in communicating and engaging with the community. It would be beneficial if it could take up more of a leadership role,” says Thakur.
The challenges and crises Australia has faced in the beginning of 2020 have further highlighted the climate and societal benefits that autonomous vehicles can offer our communities. As most of these vehicles are electric, there will be a reduced need for petrol, and smaller, more frequent public services such as buses can help reduce overcrowding.
[i] ‘Automated vehicle program’, National Transport Commission (2020): https://www.ntc.gov.au/transport-reform/automated-vehicle-program
[ii] 'Business case', North East Link Project (2020): https://northeastlink.vic.gov.au/planning/businesscase
[iii] 'Emerging technologies and trends', Queensland Government Department of Transport and Main Roads, 10 June 2019: https://www.tmr.qld.gov.au/Community-and-environment/Planning-for-the-future/Emerging-technologies-and-trends
[iv] Connected and automated vehicles plan, Transport for NSW (2019): https://future.transport.nsw.gov.au/plans/connected-and-automated-vehicles-plan
[v] 'RAC WA launches second driverless bus experience in Western Australia', International Cooperative and Mutual Insurance Federation, 3 June 2019: https://www.icmif.org/news/rac-wa-launches-second-driverless-bus-experience-western-australia