Call for WA to embrace driverless cars

Kent Acott

An international white paper says driverless cars could become a reality "sooner than you think", prompting local calls for WA to get involved.

The paper, from the respected US Centre for Automotive Research, says driverless vehicles had put the car industry on the brink of a technological revolution.

"For the past 100 years, innovation within the automotive sector has brought major technological advances, leading to safer, cleaner and more affordable vehicles," the paper says. "Now, in the early decades of the 21st century, the industry appears to be on the cusp of revolutionary change - with potential to dramatically reshape . . . the way we interact with vehicles and, indeed, the future design of our roads and cities.

"And the timing may be sooner than you think."

Motor Trade Association of WA chief executive Stephen Moir said WA needed to "take action now" and start planning for the introduction of driverless cars.

"Australia has a terrible habit of waiting for the rest of the world - we've seen that with electric cars," Mr Moir said. "Driverless cars are inevitable - it's just a matter of companies packaging the technology to appeal to consumers.

"We need to get on board in WA. And we need to get on board now."

The release of the white paper this week coincided with an announcement that battery-powered driverless cars will be operating in London within two years.

GPS technology will allow the two-person driverless "pods" to steer around objects, people and each other.