According to the recently commissioned report, Transformation: The Future of Driving to 2041, fully autonomous cars will account for half of all car sales in 25 years, with increasing degrees of autonomy ranging from cruise control to partial self-drive automation adding to traditional vehicles and over eight million connected cars on UK roads able to communicate with each other and the surrounding infrastructure.
Whilst autonomous cars rise in popularity, there will be a huge overhaul of the infrastructure designed to accommodate a mixture of autonomous cars, connected cars and traditional vehicles. In 25 years autonomous cars will have their own lanes on motorways and will, under certain conditions, be able to ‘communicate’ with the road to identify obstacles, travel delays and even potholes.
The report, which was commissioned in conjunction with Dr. Frank Shaw of the Centre for Future Studies, reveals some of the benefits of autonomous vehicles. With level four autonomy (cars that are completely self-driving with no need for human input at all) parking fines will be almost eliminated as cars will be able to drop off their passengers before finding a suitable space, whilst insurance premiums for road traffic accidents are likely to be almost obsolete with cars able to avoid collisions through communication with each other. With cars able to transport themselves between locations there is also likely to be an increase in car sharing – bringing down the costs and emissions associated with owning a car. The driving test process will be drastically overhauled – drivers will still need a license for partially autonomous cars, but fully self-driving vehicles will allow those who are unable to drive for reasons such as disability a freedom previously denied to them as no human intervention will be required.
Dr. Frank Shaw, who has been described by Time Magazine as one of the 10 most influential thinkers in the world, commented:
“The future of the car industry is an exciting one, as there will be a transformation from an industry built by mechanics to one that is largely driven by software developers. There is considerable speculation in 2016 about autonomous driving, the full impacts of which will not become manifest until the 2040s. I am confident however that over the next twenty five years, the industry and technology companies will deliver a safer, more efficient and environmentally friendly driving experience for everyone.”