Ederly and disabled could be biggest beneficiaries of driverless car technology

The Audi A8 is a semi-driverless car that will hit the market in 2018.
The Audi A8 is a semi-driverless car that will hit the market in 2018.

More than one million driverless cars could be on the roads by 2036, according to a report from motoring body NRMA.

The six month study into Australia’s driverless future said the elderly and disabled would be the biggest beneficiaries of the technology, and that licenses could become redundant. 

Car ownership could drop significantly as people lease vehicles on a Netflix-styled subscription basis by, The Future of Car Ownership report said.

Driverless cars are made at five different levels, NRMA chair Kyle Loades said, and “no one has a fully autonomous car that is legal and can be used in Australia” at the moment.

“Levels three and four are upon us now,” he said.

“A level three Audi A8 will arrive next year but won’t be fully autonomous in drive mode.

“The driver will need to be able to resume control of the vehicle under some circumstances.

A level-four vehicle is undergoing trial now, Mr Loades said, to help road authorities and governing bodies establish a “system” for the technology.

“The reason for the trial is to understand how the car works and work through all the issues with legislation, insurance and accountability,” he said.

“There is no steering wheel in the level-four vehicle but a person can override the controls with the start stop system.

“There is also some level of control which can be had with a laptop or smartphone.

By 2025, we should see a “fully autonomous” vehicle on the roads.

“If you’re an elderly person who doesn’t have a license anymore or if you’re a 10 to 15 year old that doesn’t have a licence,” Mr Loads said.

“You’ll be able to hop into an autonomous car and travel from A to B.

“About 94 per cent of car accidents are cause by human error.

“The benefits are significant in terms of safety, congestion, production and environment with people being able to travel who may otherwise struggle.”