Are We Ready For Autonomous Vehicles?

A recent study examines 20 countries worldwide and finds both opportunities and potential potholes on the road to driverless cars.

Country

Overall

Rank

Policy and

Legislation

Technology/

Innovation

Infrastructure

Consumer

Acceptance

The Netherlands

1

3

4

1

2

Singapore

2

1

8

2

1

United States

3

10

1

7

4

Sweden

4

8

2

6

6

United Kingdom

5

4

5

10

3

Germany

6

5

3

12

12

Canada

7

7

6

11

7

UAE

8

6

14

5

8

New Zealand

9

2

12

16

5

South Korea

10

14

9

4

11

Japan

11

12

7

3

16

Austria

12

9

11

8

13

France

13

13

10

13

10

Australia

14

11

13

9

9

Spain

15

15

16

14

17

China

16

15

15

15

15

Brazil

17

20

18

19

14

Russia

18

17

20

20

18

Mexico

19

19

17

17

19

India

20

18

19

18

20

                                                                                    Data From KPMG Autonomous Vehicles Readiness Index 2018

KPMG developed an Autonomous Vehicle Readiness Index in 2018 to rank 20 countries in how ready they are to accept driverless cars. (Data source: KPMG)

One of the automotive industry’s hottest topics is self-driving, or autonomous vehicles (AV). According to a recent Business Insider article, Morgan Stanley says autonomous cars could save an estimated 1.3 trillion dollars every year in the US. But is the US, and for that matter the world, ready for cars that can drive by themselves?

The Criteria      

Consulting firm KPMG recently examined 20 countries to rate their readiness for the move to vehicle autonomy. In their comprehensive report, the company looked at four major areas:

  • Policy and Legislation
  • Technology and Innovation
  • Infrastructure
  • Consumer Acceptance

The Rankings

Of the 20 countries that were included in the study:

  • The Netherlands ended up the clear leader, ranking within the top 4 in each of the four categories and number one on infrastructure.
  • In second place was Singapore: it ranked first in policy & legislation and consumer acceptance.
  • Third was the United States. Ranked first in technology & innovation with strong industry partnerships,
  • Sweden was ranked fourth, with a second place Ranked #2 in technology & innovation due to its having the highest number of AV company headquarters by population.
  • Fifth place was the United Kingdom (UK). It ranked in the top five for three categories, with strong performance in consumer acceptance and policy & legislation.
  • The bottom five included Brazil (17th), Russia (18th), Mexico (19th), and India (20th)

What it Means

According to the KPMG study, “There will be economic benefits, because the time we currently spend driving a car becomes productive time in an AV that can be spent working, relaxing or sleeping. But moreover, there will be social benefit, including a vast reduction in the 1.3 million people killed each year in car accidents and accessibility for those who currently cannot drive, because of age or disability.”

Planning for an AV future will require everything from investing in AV-ready road infrastructure and next generation mobile communication technologies to consideration of impacts to jobs, road taxes (which are based primarily on gasoline sales), insurance, and data security. Doing these things will require a vast number of public and private partnerships and the necessary legislation to remove barriers to AV growth.

How soon will any of this occur? The US has become notoriously unpredictable when it comes to its national policy positions. According to Timothy D. Wilschetz, Principal, Infrastructure Advisory, KPMG, “The US has a highly innovative but largely disparate environment with little predictability regarding the uniform adoption of national standards for AVs. Therefore the prospect of widespread driverless vehicles is unlikely in the near future. However, federal policy and regulatory guidance could certainly accelerate early adoption, particularly concerning limited freight applications such as truck platooning.”  

Senior Editor Kevin Clemens has been writing about energy, automotive, and transportation topics for more than 30 years. He has masters degrees in Materials Engineering and Environmental Education and a doctorate degree in Mechanical Engineering, specializing in aerodynamics. He has set several world land speed records on electric motorcycles that he built in his workshop.

 

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