South Australia Changing Road Laws To Accommodate Autonomous Cars

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It looks as though at least part of Australia is getting ready to embrace the technology of autonomous (driverless) vehicles, based on recent actions taken by the state of South Australia.

The government of that state recently outlined its plan to reform two pieces of key automotive legislation in order to accommodate the use of autonomous vehicles there. If this plan is completed, South Australia will be the first state in the country to have adapted its road laws to allow for the use of the technology — and also one of the first regions anywhere in the world to have done so.

Autonomous LEAF

“Our Motor Vehicles Act was written when the FB model Holden was being released to the market in 1959 and our Road Traffic Act (was written) two years later,” stated Governor Hieu Van Le in an address to the South Australia (SA) Parliament. “(The) Government will reform both pieces of legislation and also legislate for driverless vehicles, which will revolutionize transportation in South Australia.”

Accompanying the proposed changes related to autonomous vehicle use, the agenda also includes plans for the city of Adelaide to become carbon neutral.

The move towards driverless technologies follows on the heels of a new report from the technology consultation firm Accenture — in which the firm claims that “the era of autonomous vehicles is upon us,” And that Australia will play a key role in the transition.

The firm’s head of digital operations in Australia and New Zealand, David Maunsell, recently gave an interview to RenewEconomy where he predicted that autonomous vehicles could be seen on Australia’s public roads as soon as 2018.

“Before autonomous vehicles can be on public roads in Australia (apparently there are driverless trucks on private roads in the Pilbara right now), we need the software to be ready, the technology to be ready, and the laws changed,” Maunsell noted in the telephone interview.

With the recent proposed law changes in South Australia, one of those barriers looks set to be removed in the near future — leaving just the software/technology barriers.

While Maunsell didn’t discuss public opinion/perception, I’d say that that’s possibly (probably?) an issue/barrier in some regions as well. I’m not so sure myself that I consider widespread use of autonomous vehicles to be an improvement in any real way. I’m getting an image in my head right now of all of the various issues that accompany most autonomous systems of any kind.

Surely everyone knows what it’s like to be forced to deal with a rigid computer system rather than an actual thinking person? Does anyone really want the roads filled up with computers driving massive chunks of metal around at high speeds?

Image Credit: Nissan

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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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