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South Australia has just legalised driverless cars

Volvo’s driverless cars in a trial in South Australia

South Australia has become the first Australian state to pass legislation around driverless cars.

The new laws will allow manufacturers to test autonomous vehicles on South Australian roads, only needing to apply for approval from the state transport minister to get them on the road.

“By being the first state in Australia to pass these laws we are sending a very clear message to this industry that South Australia is open for business,” SA transport minister Stephen Mulligan said.

With Holden’s manufacturing facilities closing up in South Australia next year, the state government is hoping driverless car manufacturers will set up in the state to help fill some of the void left by its closure.

Minister Mulligan forecasts that the industry could be worth as much as $90 billion in 15 years time, and claimed Google, who is building its own driverless cars, referred to the new laws as a “benchmark for other countries to follow due to its design and support of innovative technologies”.

The state has previously shown significant interest in the industry, with the government conducting trials with driverless Volvo in November last year.

Cars with semi-autonomous features such as Tesla’s Model S with its autopilot features are currently on the road. Autopilot works like an extension of radar cruise control, where the car can control your speed based on the speed limit and traffic as well as use sensors and cameras to steer you inside your lane.

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