Driverless car technology is here, and many analysts believe it is not a question of if, but when such technology will become dominant on U.S. roadways. Market research firm IHS today waded into the issue with a new report predicting just when driverless cars will begin to become popular with consumers.
According to IHS, driverless car technology will gradually be implemented into vehicle designs. Consumers will soon be able to get cars with limited self-driving capabilities to be used only in certain driving conditions, and fully autonomous vehicles that still have human controls will come later.
The new report predicts that self-driving car sales will reach only 230,000 in the year 2025, though sales will quickly balloon to nearly 12 million by the year 2035. IHS believes there will be 54 million autonomous vehicles in use worldwide by 2035, with an increasing portion of sales coming from self-driving cars that do not also have human controls.
Though the IHS report does mention the current roadblock of a lack of regulation for the vehicles, it also looks ahead to the troubles the technology will face once governments have laid a framework for their use. These risks include the need for extremely reliable software and protection against potential cyber attacks. Despite these risks, autonomous vehicles will almost certainly reduce accident rates, as the problem of distracted drivers is eliminated.
“There are several benefits from self-driving cars to society, drivers and pedestrians,” said Egil Juliussen, a co-author of the report and a principal analyst for infotainment and autonomous driver assisted systems at IHS. “Accident rates will plunge to near zero for SDCs, although other cars will crash into SDCs, but as the market share of SDCs on the highway grows, overall accident rates will decline steadily. Traffic congestion and air pollution per car should also decline because SDCs can be programmed to be more efficient in their driving patterns.”