Australia has improved its preparedness for the introduction of driverless cars over the past year, according to a KPMG global report, but there is still more to do.
While overall Australia’s ranking was 15th, the country gained top marks in the ‘supportive regulations’ category – amidst broader signs of positive policy and legislative changes – and scored highly on connectivity infrastructure, specifically the availability of high-performance mobile internet.
Last year Australia was ranked 14th out of 20 countries included in the analysis. In the new survey, Norway and Finland have been included for the first time and are immediately ranked in the top six. The Netherlands and Singapore are once again ranked first and second.
|Country||2018 rank||2019 rank|
|United Arab Emirates||9||8|
Praveen Thakur, KPMG Australia Partner and National Lead for Future Mobility, said: “Overall the survey results show that many countries are making rapid progress toward a future with autonomous vehicles (AVs). There is very little to choose between many of the countries, as governments worldwide are focused on encouraging the modernization of transport, and innovation in driverless cars and trucks. There has been a great deal of investment in AV technology and supportive policy adoption.
“Australia has performed well in certain areas but still needs improvement on others. For example, our lower rating on technology and innovation will hopefully be boosted in future by the recent establishment of a federal body for transport technologies, which aims to unify the states’ and territories’ governments and agencies in delivering future transport technologies. As a federation it is crucial that different levels of government work together effectively and we are seeing this via our strong rating in the survey’s policy and legislation category.”
|Policy and legislation||12|
|Technology & Innovation||17|
KPMG Australia believes two key issues for the nation to focus on, as electric vehicles (EVs) and then autonomous vehicles become ubiquitous, are energy policy/emissions and road pricing.
Praveen Thakur said: “Typically, our daily energy demand reaches its peak in late afternoon/ evenings when people get home from work/ school and everyone turns on the lights and gets started on dinner and other activities. If EV take-up in Australia starts taking off, then it could potentially increase the pressure on our energy generation capacity during the peak period. We need to ensure there are appropriate mechanisms in place and policy certainty to maintain reliability and promote efficient investment signals. We would also need appropriate policies and pricing mechanisms such that consumers are incentivised to charge their EVs at non-peak times.”
“Our analysis also shows that AVs/ EVs could reduce Government vehicle related revenues by up to $50 billion per annum across Australia in 2046, for instance from things like fuel excise as traditional fuel consumption is reduced. We need to actively consider road pricing mechanisms that can help provide a more sustainable and stable base for road based revenues, but also help manage road demand.”
KPMG sees one of the most potentially exciting elements of the new era as the development of single payment platforms where consumers can pay – possibly via monthly subscriptions, similar to mobile phone contracts – for all their potential modes of transport, whether car, bus, train or AV and across State based geographical boundaries.
Praveen Thakur said: “The advent of single payment platforms reflects the way the forthcoming era can unify our transport policy for consumers. Currently there are ‘either/or’ modes of transport – but in future the choices will be much more connected, with the integration of AVs into the mix. We believe AVs have the potential to deliver real social and economic benefits to communities.”
“But governments will need more detailed analysis across a range of issues including future demand, consumer sentiment, behavioural change, technology transition as well as economic and environmental impacts – particularly in the areas of energy, planning and transport. Without this, there is a risk that many of the benefits of AVs will not be fully realised.”
Twenty-five countries were included in the AVRI based on economic size and progress in adopting autonomous vehicles. Countries are assessed on 25 different measures within four pillars:
Each pillar has equal weight in calculating a country’s overall score and consists of a combination of primary and secondary data.
Working with ESI ThoughtLab, consumers in each of the 25 countries worked to capture the general population's attitudes towards and their likeliness to adopt AVs once they become available to the public. The survey included standard demographic questions as well as questions designed to better understand consumers’ opinions and willingness to ride in an autonomous vehicle. In addition, the survey also included questions related to their usage of rideshare and other mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) transportation options.
In 2016, Australian transport ministers agreed to a phased reform of current driving laws to enable use of full AVs from 2020. In October 2018, the federal government established the Office for Future Transport Technologies, a 9.7 million Australian dollar (US$7.1 million) initiative to unify the states’ and territories’ governments and agencies in delivering future transport technologies in a safe and responsible manner. New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Victoria have also made significant investments.
Road operator association Austroads has undertaken work focusing on supporting vehicles’ operations through machine-readable signage and road marking, open-data in the context of road-operator data, and the opportunities for automated heavy vehicles in remote and regional areas. Outside government, toll road operator Transurban has conducted trials of connected and autonomous vehicles in partnership with six vehicle manufacturers. It is now possible to circumnavigate Australia in an electric vehicle, following significant new installations of charging infrastructure.
In October 2018, Infrastructure Victoria, an advisor to that state’s government, published a detailed investigation on the implication of AVs and their infrastructure requirements. It said that by 2046, AVs would reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by 27 million tonnes, allow a 91 percent increase in Victoria’s road network efficiency and boost economic growth by AUD$15 billion annually.
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