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Autonomous vehicles the future, research says


New research from Drive Electric shows autonomous vehicles to be a reality sooner than later

While there has been much talk about autonomous vehicles taking over the roads in the future, most people think it’s going to take years before we see driverless cars. However, new research from Drive Electric shows that self-driving cars will be a reality sooner than most people think.

The not-for-profit group’s latest paper titled The Road to a Driverless Future indicates how fast the technology is progressing.

Self-driving cars in the future

Many automobile brands have already developed cars with partial automation where the steering and speed of the vehicle are controlled by one or more driver assistance systems. And according to Drive Electric board member and Audi New Zealand general manager Dean Sheed, the technology seen in this industry will only improve in the next few years, with complete automation a possibility in the 2020s.

“Eventually, autonomous vehicles won’t have a steering wheel or pedals,” Dean, who contributed towards the white paper, says.

 “There’s no need for an autonomously driven car to be electric, but there’s a deep connection. From a manufacturer’s point of view, most of the R&D expenditure is going into electric drives and autonomous vehicles.

“These things will merge, and the cars that they’re designing today for market launch in three years’ time will likely be electric to some degree, and have elements of autonomous drive.”

He adds that enabler would be the vehicle’s ability to communicate with each other.

“We’re trying to progress as quickly as we can, but it’s fair to say we don’t have all the answers just yet,” Dean says.

Urban and transport planner Phil Carter, who works for consultancy firm ARUP and who has been working with the idea of autonomous vehicles since 2011, says driverless vehicles have the potential to change the way people travel if it’s used in the right way.

“It could create problems if there’s just one person in each vehicle. Congestion doesn’t get fixed that way,” Phil says.

“AVs could be used to complement existing public transport options, particularly if people are prepared to  ride-share.”

However, autonomous vehicles could also potentially disrupt other parts of the transport sector. Phil points out early adopters of AV will include commercial operators who move freight and people.

“Expectations are that car ownership will also go down. We will be renting or leasing cars instead,” Phil adds.

For more information about the white paper, go to

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