Autonomous cars will match or exceed human safety by 2024, after which they will grow rapidly at an annual rate of 30%. This is according to IDTechEx’s new report Autonomous Cars, Robotaxis & Sensors 2022–2042.
By 2040 technology will be capable of fulfilling the world’s mobility needs without a single collision. So why should humans be allowed to continue driving?
Technology has always caused changes to the laws on how we operate vehicles. As vehicles became faster, speed limits were introduced. When mobile phones emerged their use in vehicles had to be outlawed; as autonomous drivers outperform humans will we be banned from driving altogether?
In a press release about the report, IDTechEx says: “Should humans be allowed to continue driving when we cause millions of injuries and hundreds of thousands of fatalities in car crashes each year? No, driving will be outlawed.”
The IDTechEx report covers safety and regulation, a key barrier for adoption. One trend identified is with vehicle safety certifiers mandating higher levels of automated safety, and the inclusion of sensors such as radar.
An example is Tesla losing its top safety rating from the NHTSA when they removed radar from the Model 3 and Model Y in May. According to Tesla this improves the system. It is not yet known if this view is accurate.
Autonomous drivers are constantly aware, never distracted by mobile phones or other human needs, other drivers, or other such things which can occupy a human’s attention. Autonomous vehicles will be connected with 5G and receive more information about their surroundings than human drivers could ever see or process.
There is a good reason that computers are so ingrained into our everyday life, they can deal with more data than we can, they process it faster, and they do not make mistakes.
The difficulty, of course, is certifying that given the responsibility of driving, the last of these advantages is maintained and that the public has confidence in the technology.
Why 2050? IDTechEx has analyzed autonomous disengagement from the California DMV, which reveals the maturity of current autonomous testing. The top players such as Waymo and Cruise are currently traveling approximately 30,000 miles between disengagements, a number increasing by a factor of 2 each year.
If this growth is sustained, by 2046 autonomous vehicles will meet the total mobility demand of the US (3 trillion miles) without a disengagement. By 2050, they could meet the world’s transportation needs with fewer than 1 collision per year.