Almost every major technology and automobile company in the United States is investing heavily in autonomous driving technology. But there are a few countries that are much better prepared than the US for autonomous vehicles. Let’s take a look at the top 10 countries best prepared for autonomous vehicles. The list is dominated by European nations.
How KPMG ranked countries best prepared for autonomous vehicles
The self-driving vehicles are here, and they will have a huge impact on our world. They could improve the efficiency of public transportation and freight services, reduce the number of road accidents, and give people more free time. But they would also require massive changes in regulations related to road safety, motor insurance, user privacy, labor markets, and cybersecurity.
The list below is based on the global professional services firm KPMG’s 2019 Autonomous Vehicles Readiness Index (AVRI). KPMG ranked countries based on 25 different parameters within four categories: infrastructure, policy & legislation, technology & innovation, and consumer acceptance. The consumer acceptance poll revealed how prepared people in a country are to embrace the futuristic technology.
The 2019 list shows that governments and private companies are aggressively prioritizing the modernization of transportation.
Japan has a rapidly aging population, which would benefit a lot from autonomous vehicles. The country scored 20.53 on KPMG’s Autonomous Vehicles Readiness Index. Last year, the Japanese government unveiled plans to test self-driving vehicles on public roads to offer autonomous vehicle services for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Japan has done well in terms of innovation and infrastructure, but most people in the country aren’t yet ready to embrace AVs.
9- United Arab Emirates
The United Arab Emirates doesn’t have a lot of technology giants pouring tens of billions of dollars in autonomous driving technology. But the Middle-Eastern nation has world-class road infrastructure and people there are open to giving control of their cars to algorithms and sensors. By 2030, the UAE aims to make 25% of all transportation in Dubai autonomous. Since 2016, the Road and Transport Authority has been testing a self-driving shuttle, offering free rides to commuters.
German automobile giants BMW and Volkswagen have invested billions of dollars in developing and testing autonomous vehicles. The German government is also developing a legal framework to allow autonomous driving in specific settings, says KPMG. The country ranks near the top in technology & innovation, and policy & legislation categories.
7- United Kingdom
The UK ranks above Germany in KPMG’s list of countries best prepared for autonomous vehicles. Last year, the UK parliament passed legislation that makes insurers liable for damage caused by autonomous vehicles in self-driving mode. The country is developing a legal framework for self-driving vehicles, which is on track to be completed by March 2021. Though the UK lags behind many other countries in 4G coverage, it has seen extensive investments in 5G technology.
The Finnish government is taking a proactive approach to bringing autonomous vehicles on public roads. A couple of years ago, the government’s VTT research organization showed off how to develop autonomous cars that can drive on snow-covered roads. Finland has been testing driverless mini-buses since 2015. It plans to launch fully autonomous bus services by 2021.
Just like Finland, Sweden is developing the infrastructure needed for both electric vehicles and autonomous vehicles. In January last year, the Swedish transport agency approved the testing of a driverless bus service on public roads near Stockholm. Swedish automaker Volvo has also received regulatory approval to test its self-driving cars on public roads. Consumer acceptance for AVs is also among the highest in Sweden.
4- United States
The United States has slipped from 3rd place last year to 4th this year. It is home to Google, Apple, Tesla, Ford, General Motors, Uber, and over a dozen other companies that have been developing self-driving vehicles. The US leads the world in terms of innovation and consumer acceptance, but it lags in infrastructure and legislation. The California Department of Motor Vehicles has allowed companies to test their autonomous vehicles without a human driver behind the wheels. Google’s Waymo charges passengers in Arizona to ride in its self-driving vehicles.
In January 2018, Norway legalized the testing of autonomous vehicles on public roads. Since then, several operators have been running self-driving mini-buses. Passengers aren’t afraid of commuting in autonomous vehicles. Norway’s road administration has also been testing automated truck platooning. Norway has performed well in terms of consumer acceptance, technology & innovation, and infrastructure.
Singapore ranks 1st in consumer acceptance, 1st in policy & legislation, and 2nd in infrastructure. The only area where it lags behind is technology & innovation. Singapore has created an entire simulated test-town with bus stops, traffic lights, rain machine, and other things to test driverless vehicles. KPMG says Singapore taxes private cars heavily to discourage people from driving, which could bring opportunities for autonomous vehicles.
1- The Netherlands
The Netherlands retains its position as the country best prepared for autonomous vehicles. In March last year, it approved the legal framework for driverless vehicles. The Netherlands is working with its neighboring countries to launch giant platoons of self-driving trucks to transport flowers through the Tulip Corridor routes. It has a robust 4G coverage in every part of the country, and a high density of electric vehicle charging stations.