Australian Security Magazine, June/July 2017

Page 22

INTERPOL World - Policing Feature

The security implications of driverless vehicles

T By Keith Suter Managing Director Global Directions

his article is designed to help us think about the unthinkable. Mass produced motor vehicles have transformed our life in the past century or so. We are now apparently only a few years away from another dramatic transformation. But there is little public discussion in readiness for the new era. Henry Ford’s revolutionary method of mass production (which we now take for granted) not only changed our methods of transportation but also created its own economic and social eco-system. Thus, cars and trucks could travel long distances; gas stations were needed for refuelling; road side café’s refuelled the passengers; fast food outlets increased the delivery of food. A whole new consumer culture emerged. Healthcare experts might also complain about the increased costs, such as road accidents and the risks of a sedentary way of life. The Next Big Disruption The next big digital disruption will be self-driving vehicles: vehicles that do not need a human driver. They eventually will not even have a driving wheel or “front seat”. The consumer will call up a car via their app. The vehicle will take them to their destination, debit their bank account, and drive off to the next consumer. Uber, which is an investor in this new technology, is already getting users accustomed to not needing their own

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personal vehicle. Acquiring one’s own first motor vehicle used to be a rite of passage for young people; now that is ending. Uber is getting people used to not owning cars. Instead a customer may now call up a human driver to take them from one point to another. The next stage will be to remove the human driver. The driverless revolution contains a number of promises. Self-driving vehicles will provide: safety (most current accidents involve human error such as texting while driving or driving under the influence of alcohol), convenience (no need to worry about where to park a car) and efficiency (people will have more time to work in their vehicles). The cars will also communicate with each other and so they can work together to reduce traffic jams; the passenger will decide on the destination and leave it to the car to go via the best available route. A new industry will emerge to cater for what goes inside the vehicle: entertainment systems will be built into the vehicle to occupy time while the vehicle is moving. Two demographic groups that may urge greater attention to this revolution are: people with disabilities, and older people who can no longer hold a driver’s licence. Both groups will see the potential for their increased mobility. Currently an average car spends only two per cent of its life on active service; the other 98 per cent is spent being parked somewhere. Self-driving cars will mean less space needed to be reserved for car parks (which are storage

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