The Future is coming!

Don’t be alarmed if you pull alongside a vehicle without a driver in the not too distant future. No, you are not on the set of a futuristic movie but you could be witnessing real autonomous vehicle trials.
In conjunction with the National Transport Commission (NTC), the Federal Government has drawn up a set of guidelines for the trials of autonomous vehicles in all Australian states and territories. This would allow international car manufacturers and technology providers to trial vehicles in Australia.
One car manufacturer keen to get on the front foot in Australia is the Ford Motor Company. Already a huge investor into vehicle research and development in Australia, Ford has announced plans to test autonomous vehicles at its You Yangs training facility at Lara, south west of Melbourne.
But Ford isn’t the only car manufacturer that will be testing autonomous cars on Australian roads. With Holden, Toyota, Hyundai, Kia and Mitsubishi working on engineering programs including testing autonomous control components.
State Ministers have approved the joint guidelines as road rules are under the purview of the State Government. State and Federal Transport Ministers have been in constant discussions with industry to ensure a nationally consist set of rules.
The National Guidelines will cover a number of areas such as:
  • Safety
  • Reporting
  • Insurance
  • Conditions when applying state traffic authorities for a permit before vehicles can be tested on roads
The Guidelines are the first part of the process where a national set of rules and regulations will govern autonomous vehicles for all road users. State and Territory governments are currently reviewing their exemption powers which would enable them to support the trials of autonomous vehicles. At present automated vehicles are illegal under the road laws in Australia. 
There will be a period of trial and error but this is a risk State and Territory governments, and the Federal government are willing to take in order to reduce the appalling national road toll and improve traffic flows nationwide.
What will these changes mean for industry? With a skills shortage engulfing the automotive industry, how autonomous vehicles impact the way we train and recruit apprentices is a question that we all need to consider. What new skills and tools will be necessary to keep abreast of the challenges that these changes will bring?
With Australia looking to take the driver’s seat in autonomous vehicles, the automotive industry will continue to move at a rapid rate in front of our eyes, now is not the time to keep your eyes shut to a world full of possibilities!