DRIVERLESS VEHICLES: Michelle Landry MP, chair of the Standing Committee on Industry, Innovation, Science and Resources looks into the social impact.
DRIVERLESS VEHICLES: Michelle Landry MP, chair of the Standing Committee on Industry, Innovation, Science and Resources looks into the social impact. Allan Reinikka ROK120517ajoyce5

Social impact of auto future

AS MOST drivers spend their busy days delivering food and essential services around the nation, you could be forgiven for not hearing about the Federal Government's inquiry into the social impact of driverless vehicles.

That's right, an ongoing investigation launched in November last year, looking into the social impacts automated vehicles will have on the nation.

A justifiably big issue for an industry responsible for 75% of freight transport undertaken in Australia.

An industry whose gross total wages and salaries totals $13.6 billion (IBS World Industry Report 2015) which will be heavily impacted by an automated replacement.

So to help get you up to speed with what has been said about the potential social impact of land-based driver-less vehicles, we have done a quick round up of the information uncovered by the Standing Committee on Industry, Innovation, Science and Resources to bring you up to speed.

To date the committee has heard from 30 organisations and individual witnesses and held four inspections over the course of the inquiry, looking into safety employment, legal concerns, public transport, infrastructure needs.

Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development

In March during a public hearing the department was asked by committee chair Michelle Landry MP about the potential disruptions autonomous vehicles may have on the labour market.

It was suggested that countries that have moved with automation, have done so to address significant labour shortages due to ageing populations, like the growing situation in Australia.

Executive director Policy and Research Division Philippa Power confirmed there still was a significant potential to impact on labour.

"The reality is that automation, whether it be for vehicles or in any sense, has the potential to impact in quite significant ways on Australia's labour market, particularly in areas where automation begins to replace what we would consider lower skilled or unskilled jobs,” she said.

Ms Power the transitional change would be one of the biggest challenges facing the government.

"This is an area where we will have significant lead times and therefore the opportunity to be working with those workforces and planning for those transitions. That may in some instances mean opportunities for people to undertake different kinds of work or develop new skills in new areas,” she said.

Australian Trucking Association

The ATA's submission to the enquiry called for a reform of safety investigations of road accidents involving heavy or autonomous vehicles.

The group called for no blame safety investigations into road crashes, by extending the Australian Transport Safety Bureau's role.

"Accidents involving autonomous vehicles will need to be investigated by experts in technology safety systems and human factors so safety improvements can be made,” the submission read.

"By also extending ATSB safety investigations to road accidents involving heavy vehicles, the reform can be implemented and improve road safety in the short term and demonstrate to the community in advance of the widespread introduction of autonomous vehicles the improved safety investigation framework.

Australian Driverless Vehicle Initiative

Executive director Rita Exceel said there would be an opportunity to come from the disruption for the labour force.

"What is important is how we progress those jobs and how we create new jobs out of that.

"We see those jobs and expertise transitioning into this technology space,” she told the enquiry.

NSW Government

The NSW Government stated it was committed to supporting technological innovation, including the safe and legal deployment of connected and automated vehicles (CAVs) .

NSW Government Submission did concede some industries could be severely impacted, particularly in the trucking, freight, passenger transport, taxi and ridesharing services, and mechanical repair businesses.

In response the submission stated the Government has launched an Innovation Strategy in order to manage the transition from traditional jobs to new industries by focusing on education and training (from primary and tertiary levels).

"However, the magnitude and nature of the potential impact of CAVs on employment and various industry sectors, particularly in Australia, is yet to be fully understood,” the submission read.

Australasian College of Road Safety (ACRS)

ACRS urged the Inquiry to look at automated solutions in other countries such as collision avoidance technologies.

"We certainly should have autonomous trucks. We should have autonomous trucks driving to Darwin on the highway. We should have put in a road just for that, because they can be so flexible,” ACRS president John Lauchlan McIntosh AM told the inquiry.

"There should be autonomous buses in the city. They are possible. They can be done. We need to have a vision to

be a leader in Australia.”

Bus Industry Confederation

The BIC noted the concept of a driverless heavy vehicles may be technologically possible but the reality of mass transit and school bus services operating in this way are much less certain

for a variety of operational and personal safety and societal issues.

"Measures to gain the trust of the community in relation to safety and security will be very important, but ultimately they may not be successful,” the submission read.

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