Driverless Norwegian public transport can create jobs: minister
A parliamentary proposal that could lead the way to automated public transport in Norway could be in place within the next few months, says transport minister Ketil Solvik-Olsen.
The proposal would see 100 million kroner ($11.7 million) granted to local municipalities along with the City of Oslo for projects aimed at developing smarter city transport, according to the Norwegian National Transport Plan (Nasjonal Transportplan).
“By testing out technology and creating better mobility, developers and producers can find solutions that we can sell to others,” Solvik-Olsen told newspaper Aftenposten.
It is this focus on innovation and development that can create jobs, despite the overall goal of automation, said Solvik-Olsen.
Driverless vehicles are not currently legal on Norwegian roads, but the minister told Aftenposten that he was hoping to table a proposal during the spring to affect a change to this.
Backing technological traffic now will give a significant yield in future, according to Solvik-Olsen.
“If we look at it from a long-term perspective, I think that if we look back in 10-12 years’ time then we will be less pleased with building more roads than with how technology has increased traffic efficiency,” said the Progress Party minister.
Development and maintenance of new automated vehicles would be two areas in which new jobs could be created, he said.
Tor Medalen, professor at the Department of Architecture and Planning at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, told Aftenposten that the idea of diverting large amounts of Norwegian resources to developing driverless technology was not without risk.
“It seems a little overenthusiastic. Why should Norway suddenly become a world leader in driverless technology, when up to now we have not built cars at all? The main competition in this field is, after all, Google, Ford and Tesla,” he said.
Medalen, who specialises in urban and regional planning, told Aftenposten that did not belief automated transport would be implemented to “significant degree” any time before 2030.
“There are many practical obstacles that must be resolved first,” he said, citing responsibility for accidents and systems removal of incorrectly parked vehicles.
Technology-based infrastructure would lead to fewer cars and cleaner air in cities, said Solvik-Olsen.