The report, which provides a blueprint for the transformation of mobility in Australia over the next two decades, has highlighted that Level Five Automation – or cars without steering wheels – are likely to appear on Australian roads within eight years as the world’s automotive manufacturers fast-track the new technology.
NRMA Chairman Kyle Loades said the NRMA’s Future of Car Ownership report provided Australia with a blueprint to prepare for and maximise the global autonomous vehicle and mobility revolution.
“Australia is not ready for the mobility revolution and we need to be,” he said.
“The NRMA was central to the technology revolution of the last century, moving from horse and cart to automobile and will be just as central to this century’s revolution from automobile to autonomous vehicle.”
The Future of Car Ownership highlights that Level Three Automation (Conditional Automation) will be available next year when the Audi A8 enters the market: this enables the car to undertake most operational tasks itself, such as steering and braking, with human oversight.
While considerable global attention has been given to the work undertaken by industry disruptors such as Google and Tesla, the NRMA report highlights that investment by traditional car brands – often in partnership with technology companies – are fast-tracking the arrival of autonomous vehicles.
Ambitious targets set by car manufacturers has led to the NRMA to forecast the appearance of Level Four Automation, whereby the driver is only required to interact with the car to take over controls in certain situations, will begin appearing in Australia within three years.
Some Level Four vehicles such as the Navya Arma and Easymile EZ10 Driverless Shuttle are already being trialled in Australia and in overseas locations.
Full automation (Level Five) technology – a car without a steering wheel – will be available from 2025 with the likes of Daimler-Bosch, VW, Intel and Continental committing to this timeframe.
The Future of Car Ownership identified 10 key recommendations for Australian policymakers and industry. Key among them were:
- All levels of Government should facilitate autonomous vehicle trials and commence these trials as soon as possible
- Australian transport planners need to develop mobility policies for the future, which should include next generation smart infrastructure to service autonomous vehicles
- Specific legislation for autonomous vehicle trial and roll-out
- Private sector involvement in transport service delivery should be facilitated to provide smart mobility solutions to Australia’s growing urban centres
- The Australian Government should remove impediments to purchasing electric vehicles, such as the abolishment of the Luxury Car Tax for electric and hybrid vehicles.
Building on the popularity of new mobility services like Uber and GoGet, the report states that as autonomous vehicles become more prolific, Australian households will own fewer cars.
Instead, households may opt for subscription-based transport services allowing people to tailor their vehicle choice to the individual journey.
“The impact of autonomous vehicles will be profound to the point that it is hard to imagine a section of Australia that won’t be affected,” Mr Loades said.
“The NRMA’s Future of Car Ownership report outlines the steps we need to take as a nation to maximise the benefits of this mobility revolution.”
The Future of Car Ownership also highlights the economic and employment impact of technological advances on the transport sector: jobs in freight, taxis, couriers, car manufacturing and traffic police are among those sectors likely to be considerably affected.
However, the report also identifies the likelihood of increased employment opportunities in data and technology, electric engineering, and electric and alternative fuel technology.
Mr Loades said the upheaval that technology had caused to the telecommunications and media sectors was about to hit the transport sector.
“There are strong headwinds approaching those companies in the transport and mobility sectors, and the race is on to adapt or die,” he said.
“That’s why the NRMA has embarked on our aggressive new strategy to get ahead of the change and position ourselves to in fact benefit from this revolution.
“The challenges facing our sector are significant, but so too are the opportunities for those companies smart enough to adapt.”
The NRMA is responding to the rise of new mobility by expanding beyond the organisation’s traditional roadside assistance to embrace new technology such as the connected car to reduce Members’ risk of breaking down and improve safety.
The organisation is also looking to broaden the transport solutions it offers to its Members beyond the car, and is also investing heavily in Australia’s domestic tourism sector.