Fewer teens may be getting driver's licenses these days, but that might not be a problem for automakers come the year 2040. According to a new study, the majority of new vehicles will be self-driving within the next 30-years.
A new report released by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers predicts that 75 percent of all new vehicles will be autonomous by 2040. Given that high percentage of self-driving vehicles, things like stop signs, speed limits and even driver's licenses could soon become a thing of the past.
“People do not need a license to sit on a train or a bus,” said Azim Eskandarian, director of the IEEE’s Center for Intelligent Systems Research. “In a full-autonomy case in which no driver intervention will be allowed, the car will be operating. So there will not be any special requirements for drivers or occupants to use the vehicle as a form of transportation.”
Several companies are already working toward a viable autonomous vehicle, with Google viewed as the leading pioneer. Although infrastructure was once viewed as the biggest hurdle in the autonomous vehicle's path, IEEE senior member Alberto Broggi – who recently took an 8,000 mile trip in one of Google's cars – notes that Google's system largely avoids that issue.
“The Google cars are based on very precise maps and they have sensing primarily based on a LIDAR technology,” he told Wired. “The cars that we tested on the route from Parma to Shanghai had no maps, and had sensing primarily based on cameras. In both cases, the cars have no help from the infrastructure.”
And, thanks to vehicle-to-vehicle communication and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication – collectively known as V2X – autonomous cars could actually lead to a reduction in infrastructure. V2X could allow cars to zoom through intersection without stopping, eliminating the need for things like stop lights. Speed limits would also be superfluous as computers would determine the optimal speed of traffic.
However, the road to autonomous vehicles might not be a smooth one thanks to the human element. Most people remain reluctant to give full control of their vehicle to a computer, although that sentiment is starting to change with the implementation of technologies like radar-based cruise control, lane departure prevention and self parking systems.
“As more vehicular controls begin being automated, such as parallel parking and automatic braking, people will become more accepting of autonomous technologies,” Jeffrey Miller, IEEE member and associate professor of computer systems engineering at the University of Alaska-Anchorage, told Wired. “So by 2040, driverless vehicles will be widely accepted and possibly be the dominant vehicles on the road.”
Will you be willing to give up driving within the next three decades?