Video | Agriculture | Confidence | Economy | Energy | Employment | Finance | Media | Property | RBNZ | Science | SOEs | Tax | Technology | Telecoms | Tourism | Transport | Search


Driverless future on the horizon

Media release: Driverless future on the horizon

Vehicles that can drive themselves might seem like something straight out of a science fiction film.

But new research from Drive Electric shows autonomous vehicles will be a reality much sooner than many people think.

The not-for-profit group’s latest white paper The Road to a Driverless Future shows just how quickly the technology is progressing.

Many brands have developed cars that already feature Level 2 “partial automation” where steering and speed can be controlled by one or more driver assistance systems. (For more on levels of vehicle autonomy, see the Editor’s notes).

Drive Electric board member and Audi New Zealand general manager Dean Sheed says that technology is only set to improve in the next few years, with an eventual push towards full automation in the 2020s.

“Eventually, autonomous vehicles won’t have a steering wheel or pedals,” says Sheed, who contributed to the white paper.

And it is inevitable that autonomous vehicles will be fully electric.

“There’s no need for an autonomously driven car to be electric, but there’s a deep connection. From a manufacturer’s point of view, most of the R&D expenditure is going into electric drives and autonomous vehicles.

“These things will merge, and the cars that they’re designing today for market launch in three years’ time will likely be electric to some degree, and have elements of autonomous drive."

Another key enabler will be the car’s ability to communicate with each other and infrastructure and to take action based on that communication, he says.

“We’re trying to progress as quickly as we can, but it’s fair to say we don’t have all the answers just yet."

Urban and transport planner Phil Carter, who works for consultancy firm ARUP, has worked with the idea of autonomous vehicles since 2011.

Carter says the technology has the potential to change the way people travel if it is used in the right way.

“It could create problems if there’s just one person in each vehicle.

Congestion doesn’t get fixed that way.

“AVs could be used to complement existing public transport options, particularly if people are prepared to ride-share."

The technology also has the potential to disrupt other parts of the transport sector, he says.

“Early adopters will include the commercial operators that move freight or people.

“Expectations are that car ownership will also go down. We will be renting or leasing cars instead."

Go to for more information about the white paper.

Editor’s notes: Drive Electric is a not-for-profit group that includes many electricity and transport industry leaders on its board. It has several functions, including undertaking research about issues affecting electric vehicles, lobbying the government to continue setting ambitious targets for electric vehicle uptake and helping educate the public and companies about the benefits of EVs.

Levels of vehicle autonomy

• Level 0: Not automated in any sense.

• Level 1: Driver Assistance. Computer controls speed or steering only.

• Level 2: Partial automation. Steering and speed controlled by one or more driver assistance systems.

• Level 3: Conditional automation. The automated driving system can perform all aspects of the dynamic driving task, but requires full human driver backup.

• Level 4: High automation. The human driver doesn’t need to respond to a request to intervene, but can still choose to drive the vehicle.

• Level 5: Full automation. Full-time performance by the automated system “under all roadway and environmental conditions”, with no human intervention.

© Scoop Media

Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines


Fuels Rushing In: Govt "Ready To Act" On Petrol Market Report

The Government will now take the Commerce Commission’s recommendations to Cabinet...
• A more transparent wholesale pricing regime • Greater contractual freedoms and fairer terms • Introducing an enforceable industry code of conduct • Improve transparency of premium grade fuel pricing... More>>


Reserve Bank Capital Review Decision: Increased Bank Capital Requirements

Governor Adrian Orr said the decisions to increase capital requirements are about making the banking system safer for all New Zealanders, and will ensure bank owners have a meaningful stake in their businesses. More>>


Aerospace: Christchurch Plan To Be NZ's Testbed

Christchurch aims to be at the centre of New Zealand’s burgeoning aerospace sector by 2025, according to the city’s aerospace strategic plan. More>>


EPA: Spill Sees Abatement Notice Served For Tamarind Taranaki

The notice was issued after a “sheen” on the sea surface was reported to regulators on Thursday 21 November, approximately 400 metres from the FPSO Umuroa. A survey commissioned by Tamarind has subsequently detected damage to the flowline connecting the Umuroa to the Tui 2H well. More>>

Taskforce Report: Changes Recommended For Winter Grazing

A Taskforce has made 11 recommendations to improve animal welfare in intensive winter grazing farm systems, the Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor confirmed today. More>>