Self-Driving Cars to Account for 75% of Traffic by 2040, Says IEEE

    September 19, 2012
    Josh Wolford

Despite the concerns of old people in Florida, it’s apparent that driverless technology is the future. Google, of course, is furiously working on developing road-ready self-driving cars, and they are hardly the only ones.

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) thinks that we are close to roadways dominated by the technology. In fact, they predict that self-driving cars will make up 75% of all cars on the road in less than thirty years.

“With any form of intelligent transportation, building the infrastructure to accommodate it is often the largest barrier to widespread adoption,” said Dr. Alberto Broggi, IEEE Senior Member and professor of Computer Engineering at the University of Parma in Italy. “Since we can use the existing networks of roadways, autonomous vehicles are advantageous for changing how the majority of the world will travel on a daily basis.”

The IEEE also envisions a world without traffic lights, stop signs, or any other visible signals. Their driverless landscape involves ““Intersections equipped with sensors, cameras and radars that can monitor and control traffic flow to help eliminate driver collisions and promote a more efficient flow of traffic.” You’ll still be waiting at “red lights,” in theory, but without the actual red light.

This would help increase traffic flow and reduce jams, according to the IEEE. They envisions separate lanes for traditional and automated cars. ““Through use of dedicated lanes on the highway, it will provide more streamlined flows of traffic, which will make the transportation with these vehicles more energy efficient,” says Dr. Azim Eskandarian of the IEEE.

If 75% of all cars on the raod will be automated by 2040, that means that 75% of the population would have to own their own (personal or household), right? Not exactly, according to the IEEE. As driverless technology permeates the culture, car-sharing programs will make it easy for people to use a self-driving car, and then leave it to go transport someone else to their destination. Basically, automated taxis.

Thrilling stuff, in my book. I’d love to get some light reading done while on my way to work. Hey, maybe I could even have a drink (just kidding, kind of). The technology has a ways to come before it’s ready to become this mainstream, but Google has logged over 300,000 miles with its driverless fleet. And Toyota, BMW, and Audi have all presented concepts or actually tested the tech on their cars. Plus, you have universities like Stanford testing high-speed varieties of autonomous vehicles.

On the regulation side, driverless technology continues to clear hurdles in states like California and Nevada.

“Over the next 28 years, use of more automated technologies will spark a snowball effect of acceptance and driverless vehicles will dominate the road,” says Jeffrey Miller of the IEEE. Let’s hope that people are willing to sit back and let the robots do the work.