The NMRA just released a landmark report on The Future of Car Ownership. It predicts dramatic changes in the way that vehicles will be used in the country. The biggest issue tackled was the increasing level of automation and its impact on consumers. This will enter the market in waves.
Level Three Automation will be here as early as next year with the Audi A8 being the flagship model. Cars in this wave will be capable of steering, braking, and other operational tasks while driving. Human oversight will still be required, however, so driving lessons will remain crucial.
The technologies in this space are evolving fast thanks to the efforts of various industry players. Most of the attention has been focused on the projects by the tech giant Google and the electric vehicle company Tesla. Traditional car manufacturers are also working quietly on the sidelines. Their partnerships with smaller tech companies are pushing innovations faster.
Due to the bullish targets set by car manufacturers, the NRMA is now predicting the emergence of Level Four Automation in the local market in three years. The cars can handle most situations and human input will only be needed in a few cases. Some models are already being tested in Australian roads.
These developments will of course lead to huge changes in many industries. Defensive driving lessons for example, will need to be completely rewritten.
Full automation will be achieved with the advent of Level Five technologies. These are cars that do not even have a steering wheel as it is unnecessary. According to the report, they can become available as early as 2025 based on the commitment of major manufacturers like Volkswagen and Daimler-Bosch.
The report also forecasts a drop in vehicle ownership as more people will prefer to use mobile services such as Uber to book a ride whenever they need to travel. They can simply choose the type of automated car that would best fit their needs in each instance.
The NRMA notes that Australia is not fully prepared for the changes to come. They have listed a number of recommendations to maximize the benefits to the economy and minimize the impact on vulnerable sectors. Both the government and private sector need to adapt as soon as possible.