Could your fleet be about to embrace driverless technology?

The next time you are in slow-moving traffic, imagine what it would be like to close your eyes, check the news, or simply turn off for a minute. Well, as far-fetched as it sounds, driverless technology is apparently closer than you might have imagined and it is tipped to become a lucrative industry in Australia.

In speeches made to audiences in Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide, Former GM chief strategist Larry Burns said the reality of self-driving cars could be commercially available by 2018.

Burns, now an advisor for Google's self-drive car project, says the technology makes road journeys safer and more economical than relying on human minds and instincts. GPS, cameras and sensors view the world up to 220 metres away and cars can travel at speeds of up to 40 kilometres per hour.

Highlighting safety concerns, Burns pointed out that "sensors don't get tired or distracted," adding that driverless cars could cut road fatalities by up to 90 per cent.

Fleet managers will become increasingly aware of the advancing technology, as services modernise and fleet developments keep in step. How relevant and helpful it can become for fleet services is yet to be revealed.

However, key features like driver monitoring sound like good data resources that could be implemented into fleet management software, and others like pedestrian detection, lane keeping and the hive-like communication between cars, designed to help avoid high traffic areas, sound like useful commercial tools when out on the road.

Google's driverless car was revealed last May and Burns has tipped the finished product to be on the road before the turn of the decade.

"The leadership of Google is saying 2017, but I'm saying 2018 to hedge my bets," he said.

Driverless technology is also being developed by the likes of Audi, and we should even see its availability as an after-market upgrade to existing vehicles or fleets.

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