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ADVI releases NZ driverless vehicle survey results

New Zealanders would happily catch a driverless ride home after a big night out but are slightly more tight-fisted than their Australian counterparts when it comes to how much they would spend on buying their own.

The latest survey commissioned by leading industry group – the Australia and New Zealand Driverless Vehicle Initiative - is arguably the most comprehensive of its type ever undertaken in New Zealand, with the results to be showcased tomorrow on the second day of the T-Tech19 conference in Christchurch.

Ms Rita Excell, ADVI Executive Director says it is more important than ever to keep a pulse-check on community views and expectations of driverless vehicles because the industry is on the commercialisation cusp, and NZ has opportunity to grab its share of the estimated $7 trillion to be created in the global economy and to prevent road deaths and injuries.

“Nearly 400 lives were lost on New Zealand roads in 2018, making it the country's worst annual road toll in a decade – so it is great to learn that New Zealanders are more open to accepting driverless technology as part of their daily lives than Australians and are less concerned about having their vehicle connected to and communicating automatically with other vehicles and road infrastructure (5.7% more Australians),” she said.

“Different car ownership models and greater connectivity with the network means less congestion – which is sure to be great news for the Aucklanders who were identified in the 2018 AA Congestion Report as wasting an average 78.6 hours sitting in motorway traffic each year. In Auckland alone congestion is estimated to cost the city around $2 billion in lost productivity each year.”

One area where New Zealanders did fall below par to Australians was whether they would be willing to pay more for the privilege, with Australians showing a greater median amount extra ($AUD 5,000 extra) for a fully-automated vehicle than their current car compared to New Zealand respondents ($AUD 4650 extra).

New Zealanders emerged as more prepared to use driverless public transport or ride sharing if it helped to reduce congestion (7.1% more respondents from New Zealand). More said they would use a driverless vehicle when physically or mentally unable to drive manually (10.3% more New Zealanders), after consuming alcohol, drugs or taking medication (9.1% more new Zealanders) and (c) when they are tired or fatigued (6.2% more New Zealanders).

The Gen-Y’s came into a league of their own, with younger respondents saying they were more likely to do personal grooming (such as apply make-up), eat or drink, work or be on their mobile phone or iPad when travelling in a driverless vehicle. Overall, however, most people said that while they were happy to look out the window and chat with others, going to sleep wasn’t a popular option.

“Most New Zealanders have now heard about driverless vehicles, but a lack of direct experience saw high levels of concern on people’s legal and financial responsibility if a vehicle has a crash when in full driverless mode. Most respondents are comfortable with a driverless vehicle doing most normal driving functions, but flagged concern about letting the technology change lanes or follow too closely to the vehicle in front,” Ms Excell said.

“People understand the very significant congestion, health and safety benefits on offer, but also recognise that the technology could provide greater mobility for people with driving impairments or restrictions, reduced insurance premiums and less overall repair costs,” she said.

The ADVI-commissioned survey – which involved 5,102 Australians and 1,049 New Zealander answering 93-questions – provides an intriguing insight into the trust levels of driverless vehicle technology, what people would be prepared to pay to own one and what types of activities they are most likely to do when travelling.

T-Tech19, presented by Intelligent Transport Systems New Zealand, is being held in Christchurch for the first time as home to some of New Zealand's most innovative transport solutions. T-Tech aims to inform on the future of transport and mobility, debating the value and applicability of solutions. The 2-day event is an opportunity for delegates to learn more about government policy, major projects and initiatives, and provides industry and academia with crucial insight into how New Zealand is approaching transport now and towards 2050.

An overview of T-Tech19 keynote speakers, including Rita Excell can be found at the T-Tech19 website.

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