Make autonomous driving technologies cheaper

Much has been invested into autonomous driving research in Singapore, with the hope that self-driving cars will one day become a reality.

However, with new technology, things can go wrong.

Imagine a situation where the automation system fails and the human driver is required to take over controls.

Can the person instantly respond and manoeuvre the vehicle correctly and safely?

Humans can be startled into a state of shock or mental incapacitation when the unexpected happens. And even the most experienced of drivers can make wrong decisions.

The technology can be near-perfect, but humans can be the weakest link.

That does not mean autonomous driving is impossible.

In fact, cars that can drive and park themselves are already available for sale today.

For instance, if your car is equipped with adaptive cruise-control (being able to keep its distance automatically from traffic ahead), lane-departure warning systems (being able to warn the driver if he strays out of his lane), auto-braking and self-parking, it is basically a semi-autonomous machine.

However, these safety features are expensive options due to our punitive car taxation structure, and are generally left out by buyers.

The aim of introducing autonomous driving includes promoting safety and, possibly, more efficient use of our road space.

Semi-autonomous driving technologies currently on the market can be promoted by, possibly, exempting the cost of specifying these options from the additional registration fee.

By adopting new technologies as they come along, safe autonomous driving may one day become reality.

Yong Jianjun