Autonomous cars are coming. Are we ready? Source: Shutterstock

Autonomous cars are coming. Are we ready? Source: Shutterstock

How’s the APAC preparing for the arrival of autonomous vehicles?

GALLUP recent polled Americans about self-driving cars recently and found that more than 50 percent felt they would be the norm within the next decade.

A more global study suggests that one in four vehicles will be fully autonomous (level 5) before 2030.

However, as much of the progress is being made at research facilities, the real question is this: How are the majority of vehicle manufacturers and regulators preparing for the arrival of this technology?

According to European Automobile Manufacturers Association (AECA) Secretary General Erik Jonnaert, automobile manufacturers have a long tradition and a strong track record in improving road safety, not only for the occupants of the vehicles they build but for all road users.

Jonnaert points out that the European Commission recently revised the General Safety Regulation (GSR) requiring automobile manufacturers to re-think the safety measures in new motor vehicles — which is an example of the EU’s proactiveness when it comes to preparing and guiding the market to stay ahead of the curve in terms of new-technology implementations.

With autonomous vehicles making a debut soon, manufacturers need to upgrade safety features to not only keep passengers safe but also ensure pedestrians are not hurt in any case.

New safety feature such as the autonomous braking systems in new-age vehicles lower risks of traffic accidents as speed management directly affects the possibility of accidents — but they also prepare vehicle manufacturers for the future of autonomous technology.

Out of the estimated 1.18 million deaths and millions of injuries that occur on the road globally, Asia accounts for 60 percent. Australia observes a lowered road death rate last year but does not include injuries caused by road accidents.

To be very fair, preparing for autonomous vehicles is a project that requires the collaboration of regulators and automakers alike.

Is APAC ready for autonomous cars?

The readiness for Asia Pacific countries to have autonomous vehicles on their roads varies.

The Australian government, for example, has announced that national law will be put into place by the year 2020, although some states have already passed laws on autonomous vehicles to protect their citizens and direct businesses operating in the region.

Singapore, the pioneer of new technologies, on the other hand, is already working on several projects involving autonomous vehicles.

The country’s Ministry of Transport, for example, introduced legislation for autonomous vehicles back in 2017, and said it aims to lower the cost of transportation nationwide with autonomous public mobility solutions by the year 2022.

In Malaysia, much of the “driverless vehicles” action is being funded by private players.

Ride-sharing app Grab, for example, announced it is partnering with nuTonomy to develop and test autonomous technology. Self-driving taxis are expected to arrive in its Southeast Asian markets before the year 2022.

The reality is, driverless vehicles seemed far-fetched a few years ago. Now, self-driving technologies are being tested and used on roads.

It’s time regulators took on a more proactive role now if they’re to help enable businesses, protect pedestrians, and prepare residents for the oncoming revolution.

After all, the race to readiness for driverless technology begins with increased collaboration between regulators, automakers, industry associations, and local businesses.