The West

Perth perfect for driverless cars
Future transport: Perth could see driverless cars. Picture: Supplied

Perth's road network is the ideal environment for innovative driverless cars, which could cut road fatalities by up to 90 per cent, according to the international automotive expert who is developing the technology.

Speaking at a function held by insurance body RAC, former General Motors executive Larry Burns told transport industry representatives that Perth could benefit from the futuristic vehicles that could eliminate congestion and the demand for city car parking.

The RAC supports the ideas of US engineer Mr Burns, who is working with Google to create the satellite-guided cars, which, he claims, will be safer and more efficient that human-operated vehicles, using sensors to pick up the location of other road users.

"Humans get distracted and people lose attention. These sensors don't drink and drive, they don't get tired and they don't get distracted," he said.

"Perth feels very much like a US experience, the population densities are very similar and I think people are using cars in pretty much the same way."

RAC chief executive Terry Agnew said the RAC would support bringing driverless vehicles to Perth.

The first vehicles are expected to be tested in the US by 2018.

He said the process would be very gradual, but WA already is already embracing similar technology with electric cars and an “attention-driven” RAC vehicle, which slows down when a driver is distracted.

“When you look at road safety, WA is the worst in Australia and that’s not acceptable, how many lives might this save? Any new technology and the change is a risk but that’s not a reason not to do it,” he said.

Mr Burns said the vehicles would be 10 times more efficient than ordinary cars, simple and safe enough to be operated by children and be able to pair up with other vehicles so families could travel together.

“Busy families could have 12 year olds use driverless cars so the parents don’t need to do the school drop off,” Mr Burns said.

The West Australian

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