It might be hard to believe but today marks two years since people were given a glimpse of the future of motoring when driverless cars hit Australian roads for the very first time in 2015, when a Volvo travelled along Adelaide’s Southern Expressway by itself.
Since that historic achievement there has been a groundswell of activity by ADVI and its partners, which have grown to more than 100 leading organisations from across government, industry and academia.
We have appreciated the SA Government’s commitment as a founding partner in the Australia and New Zealand Driverless Vehicle Initiative’s (ADVI) Centre of Excellence, and praise it and the NSW government for showing leadership in passing crucial legislation that supports on-road testing and trials of driverless vehicle technologies to best assess what suits our unique conditions.
We have seen driverless shuttle trials successfully conducted in Perth, Darwin, Sydney and Christchurch. State and Territory governments now have grant funding opportunities in place to encourage a range of transport and innovation initiatives. Private road operators, with the support of Victorian government, are also undertaking research to better understand how today’s infrastructure supports advanced vehicle technologies. Our insurance partners have been active contributing to the public debate on how to ensure people are kept safe during the testing and evaluation phase of this technology.
Our presence on the world stage has continued to grow, with delegations visiting the US, Europe and the UK to meet with some of the globe’s biggest driverless vehicle names, including Google.
Australia now has at least 15 connected and automated vehicle trials and pilot programs underway, which include priority systems for freight vehicles, driverless shuttles and Australia’s first vehicle to pedestrian trial.
In fact, SA has promoted driverless vehicles not just nationally at Transport and Infrastructure Council meetings but internationally – with two driverless car companies looking to set up in the state, while another two are considering similar announcements.
ADVI’s landmark 2016 survey provided the most comprehensive snapshot ever available on local community acceptance and understanding of driverless vehicles, with 46% saying a self-driving car will be far safer than a human driver, while 82% acknowledge improved mobility for people with driving impairments or medical/physical restrictions.
It’s been a fast-paced journey, which explains why Australia – and Adelaide in particular – is now officially recognised on the Bloomberg global atlas as one of the few cities in the world as hosting autonomous vehicle testing.
Later this month sees the 2nd International Driverless Vehicle Summit, with Hon Jay Weatherill opening the event, together with Hon Paul Fletcher and Hon Stephen Mullighan guest speakers, amongst an array of national and international experts.
So buckle up and enjoy the ride as we continue to make the transition to driverless vehicles in the years ahead!
Image: Adjunct Professor Trent Victor demonstrating the capabilities of the Volvo XC90 to Hon Jay Weatherill and Hon Stephen Mullighan in 2015.
Photo credit: photojo