No need to worry about parallel parking in the future. An IHS Automotive study says sales of self-driving cars (SDC) are going to explode in the next decade around the world. Moreover, experts predict that by the year 2035 over fifty million of them will be sitting in consumer’s driveways and that automakers will be selling 11.8 million of them annually.
This may not be good news for car enthusiasts who enjoy the piloting of one’s own vehicle, but the IHS study predicts that there will be many safety benefits to the automobile revolution. By 2050, the IHS says that almost all vehicles will be self-driving and therefore will reduce accidents and traffic congestion.
“As the market share of SDCs on the highway grows, overall accident rates will decline steadily,” asserts Egil Juliussen, a principal analyst for IHS Automotive. He adds, “Traffic congestion and air pollution per car should also decline, because SDCs can be programmed to be more efficient in their driving patterns.” Adrian Lund, president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, insists, “This is the future. Vehicles are designed to protect people when crashes happen, but it would be even better to prevent crashes from happening altogether.”
Presently, many cars already contain self-driving features like park-assist, brake-assist, cruise control, and adaptive radar control to warn if you are too close to another car. IHS says that in the beginning, self-driving cars will be limited to capabilities similar to autopilot systems on planes, where there is low traffic such as open highways. By the 2020’s, more advanced technology to handle more complex surroundings will be available.
However, new innovations don’t come cheap. The sticker price will be jacked up $7,000 to $10,000 per car in 2025, but the price should steadily drop to $5,000 in 2030 and about $3,000 in 2035. The big hurdles for the SDC will be software reliability and cyber security. Needless to say, governments will be determining the rules for consumption and operation of the vehicles.