Driverless cars have been making appearances in science fiction movies for decades, but did anyone ever take them serious enough to think they’ll be a big part of our future? Some think that 2014 is a big year for global automakers to race to make serious strides in driverless technology. Some of those with more of a positive outlook like the U.S.-based international researchers IHC Inc. The company recently released their first educated guess on Tuesday in an attempt at measuring the impact of driverless cars by the year 2025.
The IHS report takes into account what major car manufacturers like Nissan are currently pledging to deliver in self-driving cars (SDC) by the year 2020. Realistically, IHS says the first mass market models likely won’t be ready until around the year 2025. At that time IHS guestimates 250,000 driverless cars will be sold in that calendar year.
The report goes on to guess at 11.8 million self-driving cars will be sold on an annual basis by year 2035. Even further in the future, IHS predicts by 2050 nearly all vehicles, including commercial vehicles, will be driverless.
Geographical predictions place North America with the highest probability of sales with 29 percent of the global market, China at 24 percent, and Western Europe making up 20 percent of the world’s buyers.
IHS analyst, Egil Juliussen, says that driverless car technology will make accident rates plunge when the human-factor is removed from the equation. Juliussen says that as more self-driving cars hit the road and market shares begin to rise significantly, the overall accident rates should decline to nearly zero.
Another few benefits that a self-driving technology brings are lessening traffic congestion and reducing the amount of pollution. Driverless cars will possess the ability to run more efficiently in their normal driving patterns.
The IHS report also notes a few hurdles with the SDC technology that will likely hinder the progress of the driverless car. Cyber security and the reliability of the SDC software are a couple major concerns when a technology can be tied to human life.
From the onset, driverless technology will add a premium price to the vehicles. The experts expect the technology to add between $7,000 to $10,000 to the car’s price tag. However that extra bit attached to the price tag will dwindle to half the burden by 2030 and by 2035 it is expected to decrease to a quarter of the 2025 predicted price.
Many states have already started to develop laws for driverless cars. Florida, D.C., Nevada and California have all recently passed laws regarding driverless cars, with nine states with laws under construction. So far, laws have failed to be passed in New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, Arizona and Oregon.
The future of driverless cars won’t only depend on the technology, laws or their sales figures. Some experts are trying to measure the impact on the job futures of commercial drivers and those that have accident-related jobs as well. In either case, the innovative driverless car technology will likely begin to catch on more and the entire world will just have to adapt.
By Brent Matsalla