2014: The Beginning of the Driverless Car Race

Almost a decade ago, self-driving cars were featured in films such as I, Robot and seemed like a concept that would possibly come in the far future. Well, the time has come for this concept to become a reality as many auto companies begin the race to build a car that has no human driver. It has been theorized that many of these companies will make large strides this year with this seemingly futuristic concept.

When Will These Cars Hit the Road?

The first educated guess was published on Tuesday by international researcher IHS Inc. Their prediction was that there would be driverless cars on the road by 2025. Suddenly the future of cars seems closer than expected as their prediction is only 11 years away. Some auto companies, such as Nissan, are sure that they will be the first to put out these new self-driving cars by 2020. Realistically, however, IHS says that the first large amount of market models will be ready to go by the middle of the next decade. In 2025, they believe that about a quarter million of these cars will be sold. From that point, IHS predicts that the market will boom with driverless cars. By 2035, U.S.-based researchers believe 11.8 million of these vehicles will be sold every year. It is predicted that nearly every vehicle on the road by 2050 will be self-driving cars. North America is expected to have the highest amount of sales, followed closely by China and Western Europe.

Enjoy a Safer Vehicle

Obviously, taking human beings out of the vehicle equation would reap many benefits, according to Egil Juliussen, who is an analyst at IHS. First of all, the rate of accidents seen on the road would decrease to almost zero for self-driving cars. As these driverless cars are fairly new to the market, there would still be accidents where self-driving cars are crashed into by other vehicles, but this occurrence would decline as more driverless cars hit the roads. Another benefit to driverless vehicles would be less traffic congestion and cleaner air. Self-driving cars can be programmed to make driving patterns more efficient. Each vehicle would get to the intended destination in the quickest and most efficient way possible, eliminating unnecessary traffic and reducing pollution in the air. Overall, self-driving vehicles would be a much safer transportation device for consumers.

Potential Issues and Cost

With any new technology, there is some risk involved. Studies of self-driving cars show two major risks that would need to be sorted out before releasing the vehicles to the public. One of these risks is software reliability. If humans are not driving the car, they would want to feel safe knowing that their car would get them to their destination safely. The other concern is cyber security; making sure cars could not be hacked while in motion. Because of the technology needed for self-driving cars, the starting price for these vehicles would probably be an additional $7,000-$10,000 to the price. By 2030 this mark up would most likely be cut in half, and again in 2035. Lastly, comes the issue of car insurance. How will car insurance companies react to the driverless car?

Moving Towards the Future

Some states, such as Michigan, are already moving to adopt laws which would allow this new technology to be used. The wave of the future is already beginning.

Related reading: Electric Cars May Be Safer Than Conventional Vehicles

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