Self-driving cars are coming, its time we get ready for them.
While much of the world focuses on the transition to electric vehicles, there’s another, perhaps more important race underway. Autonomous, or self-driving vehicles and they’re not as far away as you think, with amazing progress being made in recent years.
The issue of regulatory approval and ensuring these are safe, is something every country will need to resolve. After watching the progress from automakers like Tesla and their FSD beta, it’s clear we’re not too far away from these being ready from a technology standpoint (Musk predicts by the end of 2021).
To enable the transition from humans to computers operating the vehicle, legislation is required. Germany says a law on autonomous driving is just a temporary solution until there are regulations at international level.
Most driver assist technologies implemented in vehicles today like lane keeping or centering, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warnings, are all safety improvements, which had a fairly easy entry into our cars.
Today, most systems land somewhere between Level 2 and 3 on the ranking for Self-driving cars, while Level 4 represents a dramatic step change to responsibility of a driver. Under level 4, automakers can be responsible for the operation of the car, rather than human drivers, opening a landmine of legal questions, hopefully addressed by legislation.
There are a number of technology stacks being developed by automakers, so its important to have the safety tests in place and well understood, before any automaker comes knocking on the regulators door, to have a Level 4+ vehicle approved for use on the roads.
Let’s hope Australia and many other countries around the world, also follow suit and are ready for this innovation, as this can genuinely save lives. There’s plenty of road vehicle accident data that shows that drivers are distracted by mobile phones, impaired by fatigue or alcohol and drugs, which not only risks their lives, but the other road users.
Autonomous vehicles, after meeting a safety benchmark, can enable drivers to become passengers and finally do tasks like texting, safely, offering the first real solution to the problem, as our current system of fines, has done little to deter this behavior.
Once legislators are presented with data that prove