autonomous vehicles
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KPMG and ESI Thoughtlab have released the 2020 Autonomous Vehicles Readiness Index.

The index explores the preparedness of 30 countries and jurisdictions in the race for autonomous vehicles.

Although the coronavirus pandemic has led to several AV trials being suspended, significant progress has been made on the extensive work needed to allow autonomous vehicles to operate safely and effectively in our societies, including overhauling regulations and running large-scale tests.

Autonomous vehicles (AVs) are now slowly being used in public transport and in closed-site environments, according to the study.

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The index uses 28 different measures, organised into four pillars: policy and legislation, technology and innovation, infrastructure and consumer acceptance to measure the readiness of countries and cities.

Singapore has taken over the number one spot from the Netherlands. Since the start of 2019 the city-state has taken a number of significant steps to encourage the testing, development and adoption of AVs, such as opening a tenth of its roads for testing. Like several other highly-ranked countries, Singapore has embedded AVs into wider goals, including greater use of public transport, wider use of EVs and economic development from research-focused jobs.

Singapore now leads on both the consumer acceptance and policy and legislation pillars.

The number of charging points in Singapore will increase from 1,600 to 28,000 by 2030 with incentives for buying EVs, although the government is also phasing in a usage tax to compensate for loss of fuel excise duties. Given they will be mostly electric, such moves are vital in enabling AV implementation.

The Netherlands has one of the strongest performances on policy and legislation, being one of four countries receiving the highest score for AV regulations and among the highest ratings on government-funded AV pilots.

An extensive series of such pilots means that 81% of people live near to testing, second only to Singapore.

Although AVs are already quite sophisticated, the time that is needed to solve the ‘edge-cases’ to make it work in real life, will probably hold-off the introduction of self-driving solutions on our public roads any time soon,” says Stijn de Groen, lead for mobility 2030, KPMG in the Netherlands.

Key enablers of the AVs revolution include:

Safety: The World Health Organisation estimates that there are 1.35 million road deaths and 50 million injuries annually. With human error responsible in around 95% of cases, AVs have the potential to reduce these casualties dramatically.

Privacy: KPMG anticipates that over time the majority of countries will move to some form of data collection from connected vehicles in order to ensure the most efficient use of road space.

Digital infrastructure: Advanced AVs require sensors, on-road equipment and detailed mapping to work well, their popularity and use will be limited to areas that can afford and have invested in such infrastructure.

Impact on transport systems: Many countries and jurisdictions are using AVs to increase the convenience and popularity of shared transport. The focus on public transport is gradually being scaled up, with operators in Singapore, Spain and the UK testing full-length autonomous buses.

Cross-border travel: There is a need for the development and adoption of international standardization to allow AVs to operate in other countries, at least within the same continent.

The index is available for download.