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The recent decline in the Australian car manufacturing industry may yet have a silver lining.

As the wider automotive industry prepares for the implications of a driverless future, it is hoped that newly skilled jobs in Australia might help to ease the shortfall.

Dr Brett Dale, chief executive officer at the Motor Trades Association of Queensland, said that the industry’s expectations of autonomous vehicles had significantly evolved over the past five years.

“The automotive industry, beyond offshore manufacturers, is only now coming to realise the emergence of the technology is imminent. The realisation is in its infancy for industry, and the evolution of the technology is appearing more of a revolution to some,” he said.

“What we know is that new technology is a must for consumers; our motorists wait for no one. Industry must rapidly prepare for changing business models that will be more suitable to the changing needs of motorists.”

Brett acknowledged that the automotive industry was in the midst of one of the most disruptive periods within history. Current reports suggest up to 95% of all US car miles will be travelled in self-driving electric, shared vehicles by 2030.

The biggest effect, therefore, will be seen within the fleet industry and not through individuals, and sectors of the fleet industry will be forced to change both their strategies and their operation styles within coming years.

“The AI components may even require a new workforce that is closely aligned to software engineering rather than mechanical engineering. Industry is currently working with government in an attempt to preempt these requirements.”

“AEVs will provide an opportunity for the Australian automotive industry, but the challenge lays with shifting the mindset of business. We need to contemplate how existing businesses may be impacted and develop the skills to ensure that they can seize new opportunities.”

There is growing optimism and fear relating to the future of autonomous vehicles and the artificial intelligence that drives them. So what is Brett’s advice to ensure consumers and those within the industry remain comfortable with the impending changes?

“Education and awareness is key to the successful rollout of AV and AI,” he said.

“Consumers need to be assured that this is an evolving technology that is already prevalent to some degree, and that complete autonomy is only the refinement of existing applications in vehicles.”

What are your thoughts on the emergence of autonomous technology within the Australasian market? Leave a comment below to start the discussion.