Many different countries around the world are running driverless car trials at the moment, with the UK one of the most prominent. That trend is continuing to roll out all over the world too, as it’s recently been announced that Australia is going to run its own tests of automated technology at the Adelaide airport.
The plan at the moment – that may be subject to change – is to have driverless shuttles take people to and from different terminals. They will operate much like the Lutz and Meridian shuttles being used in the UK currently, though it’s not clear if it will be a separate development from other companies, or whether some of the British developments will be used.
While that trial may happen on private land however, the South Australian government is currently looking into its legislature so that it can be updated to allow fully driverless vehicles on roads around the country. It’s hoped that the new laws will be in place by the end of the year, which will allow some measure of automation to take place on motorways and elsewhere, though it seems likely that like other parts of the world, fully autonomous cars will still need a driver behind the wheel just to placate those that believe the technology isn’t ready.
“Even though it’s not going to happen today, within the next decade we’ll start to see them on our roads,” said executive of motoring organisation, the RAA, Mark Borlace (via ABC). “In the next couple of decades they’ll be commonplace so getting people used to it is an important beginning.”
Indeed, much like the UK’s trials, part of the reason Australia is pushing for its own, is to help the public become used to the idea of vehicles operating without a driver. Although the legislation hurdle is one that needs to be leapt over, one of the other biggest obstacles for those pushing for automated vehicles is the public, which have shown some hesitance to allow them on the road with human-piloted vehicles.
Still, it seems likely that over time, as the technology becomes more common place, people will find it easier to accept and within a generation or so, it won’t even be something we bat an eye at. However what people will still care about is the effectiveness and safety of the technology, which is something else these tests can help develop further.
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