Driverless cars could transform transport in Nelson

A driverless shuttle was trialed at Christchurch International Airport in January, and could be coming to the streets of ...
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A driverless shuttle was trialed at Christchurch International Airport in January, and could be coming to the streets of Nelson soon.

Driverless cars could transform Nelson in the not-so-distant-future, says IT professional Matthew Dodd.

Forget about owning and driving your own car, you would just wave down one of the electric cars driving around by themselves.

Datacom Nelson regional manager Matthew Dodd, who is also a IT Professionals New Zealand Nelson committee member, said having autonomous (driverless) cars in the region would reshape car ownership and help reduce the environmental impact of non-electric cars. 

IT Professionals New Zealand is organising a panel discussion around driverless cars at NMIT on Wednesday, headed by Pic's Peanut Butter founder Pic Picot, Appleby's Drone Company founder Des Carroll, AON business systems manager Kent Fergusson and Nelson City Council group manager infrastructure Alec Louverdis.

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"Part of the joy of the panel discussion is that you don't know ... where it'll end up," he said.

Autonomous cars are vehicles that are capable of sensing its environment and navigating it without a human driving it. 

Self-driving cars are currently being tested around the world, with most major car makers developing the technology. 

Dodd said New Zealand had made investments into the technology behind driverless cars and having them available around the country in the next several years wasn't a far fetched idea. 

Christchurch was the first city in New Zealand to start a trial of a driverless shuttle at Christchurch International Airport in January this year. 

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Dodd said Nelson could either wait for other cities such as Christchurch to trial the concept first, or adopt it early on and lead the way nationally. 

He said the aim of the event was to have an open discussion about the possibilities around driverless cars in the region, and they would aim to avoid "old topics" such as the Southern Link. 

Dodd said Nelson could have driverless cars a year from now, or longer and the panel discussion would be a good way of finding out how Nelsonians felt about the prospect. 

The free event "Driverless cars - the pathway to the future?" is at NMIT's Johnny Cash Room on Wednesday, August 23 from 5:30pm to 7pm. 

 - Stuff

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