The promise of driverless vehicles has been met with much excitement, understandably so. The use of the Google car is evidence that these vehicles are not far away.
Before these become mainstream, much still needs to be done. Improvement need to happen in the field of technology, increased economies in the build and governance developed for their use.
An upside for driverless cars is the potential reduction in accidents and lives lost (1.3 million a year globally in 2013) due to motoring incidents. The benefits move well beyond that – lower congestion, pay per use, lower costs in the form of insurance, registration, ownership, maintenance.
More efficient use means less wear on roads which lowers repair and maintenance costs. Limited or no street parking will free untold amounts of CBDs currently used to park cars, further reducing congestion. Standalone car parks and under building parking will also mean that the land around shopping centres and commercial centres can potentially be re-purposed.
Self-driving trucks will skirt the eight-hour driver curfew meaning greater efficiencies in the transportation of goods. Driverless trains and trucks are used on mine sites in Australia, significantly reducing costs. Rio is using technology developed by Komatsu and Caterpillar in new trucks and to retrofit existing trucks with driverless capabilities and its autonomous fleet will now number around 130 trucks.
To learn what’s next in the rapid world of technology, contact Tony Crabb, National Director, Research.
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