A tech expert is predicting hundreds of driverless cars will have hit New Zealand roads by the end of next year.
New Zealand's first research into a driverless electric shuttle will begin at Christchurch Airport next year, as part of a two-year trial. [LINK]
Graeme Muller from NZ Tech says demand for the cars will be revving up shortly after, and he's encouraging people to embrace the change rather than shy away from it.
"You can either think of it as scary or you can think of it as exciting," he said.
"If you think about things like 94 percent of all road deaths are caused by drivers, having computers which can avoid most of those is going to reduce the death rates."
Autonomous vehicles can range from being fully driverless, which may not even have a steering wheel or brakes for an operator to use, to needing some human direction under certain conditions.
Mr Muller says the technology is almost ready for the public sphere.
"It's technology that's been moving at exponential pace. It's been in the making for quite a few years and we are just getting to that tipping point," he said.
And Mr Muller is commending the Government for clearing the way for the vehicles to take to our roads.
"New Zealand has done a great thing by opening up the ability for us to actually have self-driving cars on our roads so it becomes less of a legislative problem and more of, are we are humans ready to use it?"
The Government says fully autonomous vehicles will likely not require any major changes to our infrastructure for them to operate here, replying on on-board sensors to control the cars' movement.
Mr Muller predicts that in two decades, driverless cars will outnumber cars driven by humans.