KPMG: Australia isn’t ready for autonomous cars

Date: Feb 15, 2018

Autonomous vehicle (AV) technology is developing at a rapid pace, but the world is still a number of years away before driverless cars are commonplace on Australian roads.

Fortunately, this should give the country time to make better preparations for the self-driving revolution, with a recent KPMG study revealing that Australia is falling behind in the AV race.

The big four firm’s 2018 Autonomous Vehicles Readiness Index examined 20 countries to gauge their infrastructure, regulations, consumer acceptance and technology for driverless cars.

Australia ranked 14th overall, with the Netherlands topping the list and closest neighbour New Zealand achieving 9th.

What improvements are needed to prepare?

Australia clinched a maximum score for infrastructure due to its mobile network quality, but the country lost points due to few innovative AV headquarters or technology patents, zero relevant investments and limited consumer interest.

“The mobility freedom provided by AVs will have a transformational impact on society,” said Paul Low, KPMG transport management consulting partner.

“But with the tremendous opportunity comes significant challenges that have to be addressed in order for Australia, and other countries, to be able to realise the full benefits of AVs.”

KPMG urged federal and state governments to focus on a number of changes to prepare Australian cities for the era of driverless cars:

  • Consider AVs in infrastructure planning processes and investment decision-making;
  • Facilitate the establishment of an AV testing facility to help manufacturers pilot driverless cars for Australian roads;
  • Encourage more people to use ride- and car-sharing services, as these are likely to be the first implemented uses of AV technology; and
  • Introduce road-pricing reforms to manage car travel demand.

“Planning today for an AV future is essential, because it is not a question of if, but when, AVs becomes ubiquitous,” Mr Low explained.

The benefits and challenges of AVs

Driverless cars are expected to deliver a string of benefits, including freeing up time for commuters, reducing traffic through optimal route planning and a significant drop in the number of motor vehicle accidents. McKinsey and Company predicted the technology could lower crashes by as much as 90 per cent.

But AVs raise interesting ethical and legal questions, such as who is ultimately at fault for an accident caused by driverless technology? Also, how should manufacturers program AVs to react in a no-win situation? For example, if a child runs out in front of a vehicle, should the car swerve to avoid the pedestrian and put the person behind the wheel in danger or protect the driver instead?

These are just some of the complex issues that could arise if AVs become commonplace on the country’s roads. However, if you’ve recently been involved in a car crash in Australia that was not your fault, the situation may be much simpler and you could be entitled to compensation.

Please contact our expert personal injury experts at Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers to learn more.

Call us now on 1800 004 878 to book a free appointment with one of my compensation experts, or email your enquiry.