A year ago, we conceived and published our first Autonomous Vehicle Readiness Index (AVRI), to raise awareness of the transformational social and economic benefits that autonomous vehicle technology could offer society.
At the time it felt like a conversation in its infancy. Since then, we have seen a huge acceleration in investment in autonomous vehicle technology, in policy adoption by governments to encourage autonomous vehicles, and in media coverage of the topic. Countries and states including the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Australia, France and California have passed or are passing legislation opening autonomous vehicle access to public roads. Trials are underway from Singapore to Madrid to Gothenburg.
The response to the 2018 AVRI was beyond all my expectations. It was particularly gratifying to hear from officials in many countries that it had helped focus their governments on the value which driverless cars could offer their societies. They also appreciated the insight into what the leading countries were doing.
I was repeatedly asked if we would update the analysis, and I was approached by countries not included in the Index to ask if we could cover them next time. We were pleased to do so! Our 2019 edition adds five new countries (Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Israel and Norway). It also provides new measures including consumer opinion on driverless cars, and, drawing on the expertise of my colleagues in KPMG’s national firms, it offers greater insights into individual countries.
The results of the 2019 Autonomous Vehicle Readiness Index tell us that all countries are making rapid progress toward a future with autonomous vehicles. It shows that governments are focussed on encouraging the modernization of transport and taking steps to ensure that their communities benefit from an autonomous vehicle future.
The results confirm my own experience from conversations with federal and city authorities across the world – in Ottawa, Melbourne, Singapore, London and Washington, to name just a few – that autonomous vehicles are something they recognize will bring transformational change.
I continue to be inspired by examples of authorities that are embracing the transport technological opportunity: the Ten Gigabit Adelaide project, for example, which has laid the data infrastructure backbone for connected vehicles in the Central Business District; the UK Government legislating to clarify AV insurance and liability; and Shenzhen in China replacing its entire bus fleet with 16,000 electric buses.
The strong reaction to last year’s tragic autonomous vehicle death in Arizona highlighted that the public may not yet be persuaded that autonomous vehicles are a good thing. So this year, KPMG International conducted consumer opinion research to better understand consumer sentiment on autonomous vehicles. Interestingly, the findings revealed a correlation between countries lower in the rankings having the most consumer interest in autonomous vehicles. These countries include India (#24) and Mexico (#23).
It makes sense to me that consumers in less developed countries show a greater willingness to embrace autonomous vehicles, seeing them as an opportunity to leapfrog the infrastructure advantage of more developed nations. Those countries with developed infrastructure display more ambivalence toward autonomous vehicles. I hope that does not delay the adoption of autonomous vehicles in those countries, as all societies have a huge amount to gain.
I continue to believe that the social benefits of autonomous vehicle adoption will be enormous in reducing road deaths, improving accessibility for the young, old, disabled and those in remote communities, and driving economic growth. By sharing the best national achievements, I hope we will continue to accelerate the pace of this revolution.