News and Reviews

How Driverless Vehicles Will Impact WA Motorists

October, 2015

Today’s busy roads in cities all across the world continue to frustrate motorists and make it nearly impossible for anyone to enjoy their daily commute. And while ridesharing services like the ones offered by Uber and others do exist, they aren’t doing much to alleviate the problem of traffic congestion.

Though Perth is the country’s fourth most heavily populated capital city after Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, a recent report from Infrastructure Australia paints an interesting picture, with the number of inhabitants set to reach 3.97 million by 2031 — up 1.62 million or 1.69 percent when compared to figures from 2011.

Now, the question that has everybody talking is how such an issue like this will be dealt with. As luck would have it, there may be an answer in driverless vehicles, or cars that drive themselves.

What Makes This Kind of Technology Possible?

Truth be told, car manufacturers have been striving towards an ideal scenario where smart machines are able to replace the driver’s role and function for quite some time, with gesture control options having been around for close to 10 years and GPS technology a lot longer than that.

A driverless vehicle makes use of an array of precision positioning equipment that work to produce a 360-degree view of the immediate and surrounding environment.

The sensory devices are adept at navigating unforeseen obstacles — barring unfavorable weather, component malfunctions or vulnerability exploits — and so far, many of the more recent controlled trials have yielded positive results.

Interestingly, the first on-road driverless vehicle trials to be held in the Southern Hemisphere are scheduled to take place on Adelaide main roads early on the 7th and 8th of November.

An Argument for Automated Vehicles in Perth and Elsewhere

Aside from easing pressure on WA roads, the arrival of the new technology should help to curb or even eliminate the prospect of speeding fines, car accidents and more serious collisions involving drunk or distracted drivers.

One of the more practical applications however, is the driverless vehicle’s ability to park itself after dropping passengers off at their destination — a capability which is an improvement over modern driver guidance and assistance systems.

The advantage of this kind of autopilot technology in urban environments is that it puts an end to having to drive around the block looking for a parking space, thereby increasing fuel efficiency.

That said, the price tag of first generation autonomous vehicles will represent a significant financial barrier for the majority of Western Australian wage-earners and may offset any savings, limiting the adoption rate, at least early on.

Granted, car manufacturers must successfully satisfy a plethora of safety regulations and navigate the pitfalls of bureaucratic red tape before the government can allow self-driving vehicles into the marketplace en masse.

A Future Filled With Automated Vehicles

Beyond the certainty of knowing that the driverless economy is on its way, there’s no telling what the reality of such an outcome would be. Suffice it to say, there’ll be many more cars on the road if the necessary networks and infrastructure aren’t in place before the eventual unveiling of entry-market models.

At the end of the day, any discussion about the future of the auto industry is going to be from a hypothetical standpoint. But as humans are going to remain at the wheel for some time yet, it does serve as a timely reminder to check your car in for service at your local dealer.

And who knows, it may well be one of the last times you’ll have more to worry about than where you left your keys.

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