THE RISE OF DRIVERLESS VEHICLES1 WHO'S IN CONTROL? Henry Silvester
BRISBANE | SYDNEY | MELBOURNE | ADELAIDE | PERTH | HOBART
ou may not know it, but out on the roads, already, are driverless vehicles. They have been there for a few years. They are being tested in public areas. Private owners are taking them out for a spin and driving them to work. Soon you will be surprised to hop on a bus with no driver. Soon you will not be surprised at all. A Finity Consulting report published by the NSW State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA) has suggested that annual sales of automated vehicles will represent 75% of all lightduty vehicle sales by 2035.2 US studies have suggested 100% uptake or close to it by 2040.
This paper explores the evolution and future of driverless vehicles, the applicable laws and insurance, particularly: The internet of things and levels of automation Who’s driving this and why? What changes to the law are needed and when? Possible effects on insurers The road ahead
"Annual sales of automated vehicles will represent 75% of all light-duty vehicle sales by 2035..."
Thanks to Kayleen Manwaring, Lecturer UNSW School of Taxation & Business Law (incorporating Atax) for her assistance in her specialist field of technology law. Thanks also to Jacinta Daher of Suncorp for her contribution to an earlier version of this article.
2 Finity Consulting Pty Ltd, The impact of autonomous vehicles on CTP insurance and it’s regulations (January 2016) State Insurance Regulatory Authority .
LEVELS OF AUTOMATION Already we live with lots of automation: Robotics The internet of things connecting us remotely from iPhones to fridges Cruise control, ABS, auto-park, voice command For driverless vehicles, Australia has adopted the Society of Automotive Engineers International Standard J3016 which identifies six levels of automation: Level 0 – No automation Level 1 – Driver assistance Level 2 – Partial Autonomy: the human driver retains supervisory control over the automated driving system and the driving environment (i.e. self-parking vehicles, rear-view screens). Level 3 – Conditional Automation: if prompted by the system, the human must monitor the automated system and resume control. Level 4 – High Automation: the system does the driving except the capacity exists for the human to resume control. Level 5 – Full Automation: the system does the driving with no human control.
WHO’S DRIVING THIS AND WHY? Driverless vehicles would not have support if they were considered less safe than conventional vehicles. This could be the likely perception given the media’s constant attention to tragic deaths arising from driverless vehicle testing. There is no denying a fear factor in current public opinion and this is a major consideration for both business and government. However, fear fails in the face of these facts driving driverless vehicles: Car manufacturers and cool companies like Apple, Tesla and Google are investing billions of dollars in research, development and promotion. Forecasts by Intel (the computer chip company) that the automated vehicle market will be worth US$7 trillion by 2050.
"...approximately 90% of road accidents are caused by human error and in NSW, the three main causes of injury and death are speeding, fatigue and alcohol."
Governments save money on reduced costs e.g. roads (vehicles travel more efficiently, less congestion), hospitals (less injury) and courts (less offences). The Sydney Metro rail network, currently under construction, proposes to use driverless trains to shuttle an additional 100,000 commuters across the city every hour.3 Business wins with increased productivity and costs savings (e.g. people can work whilst travelling, driverless fleets such as Uber and short/long-haul transport). Road safety by removing human error: approximately 9