According to the nation's Driverless Vehicle Initiative, we're at risk of being left in the slow lane when it comes to autonomous vehicles.

Australia has slipped from 14th to 15th in the Autonomous Vehicle Readiness Index, a trend the Australia Driverless Vehicle Initiative (ADVI) says should "sound warning bells".

According to ADVI, Australia has "gone from being on the international radar as a leader, to a country that risks being marginalised as it slips further into autonomous vehicle obscurity".

"Now is the time for leadership and positive action to address these concerns," said Rita Excell, director of ADVI.

At the moment, most of the driverless progress in Australia has been focused on short-range, short-term shuttles on regular routes. We've seen shuttle trials at LaTrobe University in Melbourne and in rural South Australia, while Canberra hosted a public trial of self-driving tech on a closed circuit.

“Australia needs to broaden well beyond the current focus on short-term driverless shuttle deployments. In the US, it is now a decade since Google first launched its self-driving car project," Excell argued.

Singapore ranked first for Asia in the KPMG-run survey, while The Netherlands led the overall rankings.

The potential for autonomous vehicles to improve our lives has been well documented, although whether or not enthusiasts want them is another question entirely.

A study from Infrastructure Victoria found taking the 'autonomous fast lane' could improve the efficiency of Victorian roads by 91 per cent.

"We have already seen the end of vehicle manufacturing in this country, and the fast-moving AV tech sector can go a long way to filling that gap left behind – but Australia must stop sitting on its hands and waiting for others to first make a move,” Rita Excell said.