Technology

Australian Automation (Driverless Cars) Article

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Source: Peter Z

I began writing this post for an Australian company but realised half way I was off brief so kept for myself. Can be nice to show you some of the work too so enjoy. But I haven’t done anything since the work was canceled with client. The work is relatable to the UK and you may want to explore in your own time – Shaneka Knight

Increased Automation

For over a century now, increasing sectors and job positions have become susceptible to automation. We will explore this topic, before diving into autonomous vehicles/driverless cars. One example would be supermarkets, once only consisting of checkout tills, and aisles, now self scanners are prevalent throughout supermarkets worldwide. Amazon want to go one step further making stores even more automated allowing customers to purchase items without going through a till or self check out. These shops are known as Amazon Go. You just walk in and grab what you like, currently, an app is needed in order to enter the store. Under 30 were up an running in 2020. A similar trend can be seen in Airports, the check in desk may no longer be your first point of call.

This article will focus on the automation which has been taking place since the 1930′ within the automotive industry. Autonomous vehicles have  been commercially available since the 2000’s and now many countries are finding they need to develop their infrastructure in order to fully optimize these new industries. Read on to find out more.

Autonomous Vehicle Levels

Level 0 is a normal car, level 5 is a fully autonomous car.

Level 0: No Automation. The vehicle is steered by a human driver even when vehicle is enhanced with warning systems etc.

Level 1: Driver Assistance. A human driver is assisted by a system. This system may aid acceleration, deacceleration, and/or steering. Once again, the driver is in charge of most of the driving facilities.

Level 2: Partial Automation. The system is now mostly in control of the driving, with the human driver monitoring the equipment. There may be different modes of automation.

Level 3: Conditional Automation. A driving mode which allows for specific automation unless a human driver intervenes in the system e.g. in light of an obstacle.

Level 4: High Automation. A driving mode which allows for specific automation regardless of human driver interference e.g. will respond to an obstacle by itself.

Level 5: Full Automation. Full time performance of automated driving. Handling all environments and roadways which can be navigated by human drivers.

Brief History of Autonomous Car

In 1939 General Motors (GM) put together a display for the New York’s World Fair. It was the worlds first autonomous, or self driving car. It managed to  guide itself via a radio controlled electromagnetic field, and a few sensors at the front. It was far from the fine tuned technology prevalent today but a step in the right direction. By 1977, the Japanese company developed another autonomous car. The issue with the Tsukuba mechanical engineering was that it was limited at only being able to travel at 77mph. Whilst the two exhibits had been limited by their capabilities. They showed that secretly, the automotive industry was developing its Autonomous Vehicle Technology.

Other innovations happened along the way but as this is not the focus of this article we shall move on.

The 2000’s, The Electric Vehicles Market & Electric Vehicles in Australia

Fast forward to the 2000’s and you get Tesla, with its face Elon Musk. Tesla has become also synonymous with autonomous driving yet they are one of many providers of this technology. Others include, Waymo, Zonx, and Swift Navigations. Like many, they believe autonomous vehicle driving is the future. Their custom made cars come with autopilot, which enables your car to steer, accelerate and break. Legally, a human has to be behind the wheel at all times. When it comes to the manufacturers, Tesla is leading the popularity game but it seems as though Volkswagen AG and Ford Motor Co. are leading the innovation. Whilst Waymo’s technology has been praised.

In 2020, Tesla sales were up 16% in Australia. There is a market here for it. Tesla sells twice as many cars to Australians than any other electric car provider, in 2019, there were 7000 Tesla’s on the roads of Australia respectively. This seems like a tiny number when you consider in 2020 more than 700,000 cars were bought in Australia.

Waymo, formally, the google self car driving service has proven to be successful in America. In certain parts of America, you can download the Waymo One app and enjoy a fully autonomous ride hailing service. Waymo Via is a business alternative, driving large Class 8 trucks to provide an autonomous cheaper alternative to trucking. Waymo’s plans for Australia are yet unclear. Companies such as Volvo have pledged from 2019 to only develop hybrid and electric cars. The CEO of BMW urged Australia ‘do more to promote electric vehicles. In light of slow sales in the country compared to other western countries. Autonomous vehicle technology is oftentimes cleaner, cheaper, and more efficient than driver led vehicles. In the long term, it is hoped these alternatives will aid congestion, leave governments to dedicate more time and funds to social issues, whilst reducing the number of road accidents which take place each year. In January, 2021 98 individuals lost their lives due to road accidents in Australia. You can look into the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets to see which manufacturer’s and brands are on board with pushing Autonomous/self driving cars.

How soon will electric vehicles be on the road?

Self driving vehicles will be on the roads of Australia very soon. Realistically, there are already a number of electric cars on the road, and international governments are looking to widen the grip of autonomous vehicles. If you examine the United Kingdom (UK) in September 2020, they began plans to begin trialing driverless buses. The New South Wales (NSW) government isn’t far behind trialing driverless shuttle bus routes.

These buses will run at a maximum of 50mph, and are expected to arrive every 20minutes. Operating at Level 4 Autonomy, relying upon a combination of sensors, cameras, and satellite navigation. There will be a driver who can use controls in emergency situations.

In Australia, there are 9588 Tesla’s on the road, as of December 2020.

Australia’s Automated Vehicle Program

In Australia, the Automated vehicle program is set to prepare the country for driverless cars. The main roads have not been adapted, whilst current laws do not permit driverless vehicles to be used on public roads.

Electric Vehicle Infrastructure

Electric Vehicle Infrastructure is a high priority for the Australian government. By 2040, they want to have a nationally connected

Conclusion

Autonomous cars are here to stay. Their history is a lot longer ranging than many individuals presume, being honed for what seems like decades. The automotive vehicle industry is at a trajectory where it is reliant upon the development of its infrastructure for future success,

Comment below to let us know what you think could be a turning point for the industry in the upcoming years.

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