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Autonomous tech will cut road toll

Cars that drive themselves grabbed the headlines at this month’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Audi showed its commitment with a self-driving A7 Sportback that drove itself nearly 1000km to the show, while Mercedes-Benz unveiled a show car called the F 015 that’s all about future luxury but also ticks the box for autonomous driving. But, should a car be encouraged to drive just because it can?

I’ve ridden in a BMW 7 Series that can do a brilliant job of driving itself, but only on a very limited 10km stretch of road at home in Germany. It would be a total misfit and a failure in Australia, where the GPS data, road markings, street signs and much more would not allow it to operate.

So, we’re unlikely to see self-driving cars here any time soon, if at all.

But they’re important because the systems needed for autonomous driving — from stereo vision to automatic braking — are vital as car makers work to give us a world without car crashes. There will always be accidents and incidents and most of them will be caused by driver errors, so driver aids will play an increasing role in cutting the road toll.