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Where are smart machines heading in 2015?

Rebecca Merrett | Dec. 19, 2014
Job losses, more driverless car trials and drones for delivering goods

Sheedy doesn't see driverless cars on Australian roads next year, as the country's manufacturing sector has taken its toll over the last couple years.

"Without a manufacturing capability in Australia, who is going to be running those trials? It probably won't be Google; they won't bring their car out to Australia. And why would BMW or Ford or something choose Australia when they've got many other lucrative markets around the globe to roll these out in?"

Jorn Bettin, an advisor at IBRS, said system reliability, security, and data quality challenges are going to be the main bottlenecks that stand in the way of self-driving cars next year.

He added that these challenges are not likely to be resolved any time soon, so large-scale rollout of smart machines will be limited to non-critical applications.

Leathwood pointed out there are cars, which have been around for a few years, that warn the driver if he/she starts drifting off the road or lane. The logical extension of that, he said, is to have the car intervene and know where the middle of the lane is to get the driver safely back on track.

"At the moment, that is mostly done through sensors, immediate sensors on the car scanning the immediate environment. When you start to combine the immediate sensors with some sophisticated GPS so it knows at a macro level where it is, it's perfectly possible," Leathwood said.

Drones or unmanned aerial vehicles that deliver goods to consumers will become more popular now that Amazon and Coca-Cola have trailed this, Leathwood said. This could particularly take off in Australia, as the minimum wage rates are quite high compared to other western countries, he said.

"If you could have a drone deliver it, it does sound a bit farfetched, but the economics make a lot of sense."


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