LEGISLATION introduced to the South Australian parliament today means that driverless cars could soon be on Aussie roads.
Transport Minister Stephen Mullighan wants the state to be at the forefront of the emerging technology and the bill will pave the way for trials to be conducted on public roads.
While trials are set to take place on a closed-off Southern Expressway in November, the new legislation will relax restrictions on self-driving cars — an industry expected to be worth roughly $90 billion in 15 years.
“As the first state in Australia to regulate a framework for such testing, we are opening our doors to global businesses to develop and trial their technologies here, while also creating the right environment for local businesses to grow and flourish,” Mr Mullighan told the Adelaide Advertiser.
Companies looking to take advantage of the new legal environment will have to submit detailed proposals to satisfy the state’s concerns around public safety and insurance.
“It is critical that the public has confidence that these trials will operate safely on our roads,” the minister said.
Adelaide-based technology company Cohda Wireless makes sensors for driverless cars and the bill will likely see an uptick in production for the local manufacturer.
Mr Mullighan also hopes to entice international companies such as Google and Tesla into conducting trials in the state. He will be heading to California next week to meet with Google — a company that has spearheaded the driverless car industry — to discuss its future.
“They specifically want to speak to regulators and legislators about what sort of operating environment they want to see and I’m very much looking forward of taking over a piece of nation leading reform,” he told the ABC.
The state’s Premier Jay Weatherill is a strong supporter of the initiative but the opposition leader Steven Marshall is not convinced it will be the economic boon touted by the Transport Minister.
“I think what the Government needs to do is build the case that this is going to create long-term jobs not just be another pet project and another diversion,” he said.
Excitement has been building around the market of self-driving cars for a number of years now and it was recently revealed that even Apple is throwing its hat in the ring.
The hype behind self driving cars from the likes of Volvo, Google, Tesla and Mercedes-Benz isn’t just because people are too lazy to drive themselves, but for the genuine possibility of fatality-free roads.
Earlier in the year, news.com.au test drove Volvo’s new XC90 SUV model which uses driver tracking technology and pilot assist functions to operate the car in a controlled environment.
It’s the same vehicle that will be used in the November trials in South Australia.