54m self-driving cars expected on world’s roads by 2035

3 Jan 2014

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A Google driverless car

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In the US, California, Nevada and Florida have legislated for driverless cars, while in Ireland the Road Safety Authority is keeping a watching brief on the subject. According to new research, there will be 54m self-driving cars on our roads globally by 2035.

New research from IHS Automotive forecasts sales of self-driving cars (SDCs) will grow from 230,000 in 2025 to 11.8m a year in 2035. These will include cars that self-drive autonomously and self-driving cars that include optional driver control.

The study anticipates that nearly all of the vehicles in use are likely to be self-driving cars or self-driving commercial vehicles sometime after 2050.

The price premium for the SDC electronics technology will add between US$7,000 and US$10,000 to a car’s sticker price in 2025, a figure that will drop to around US$5,000 in 2030 and about US$3,000 in 2035 when no driver controls are available.

“There are several benefits from self-driving cars to society, drivers and pedestrians,” says Egil Juliussen, principal analyst for infotainment and autonomous driver assisted systems at IHS Automotive. Juliussen co-authored the study with IHS Automotive senior ADAS (advanced driver assistance systems) analyst Jeremy Carlson.

“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,” Juliussen says. “Traffic congestion and air pollution per car should also decline because SDCs can be programmed to be more efficient in their driving patterns.”

The study also notes some potential barriers to SDC deployment and two major technology risks: software reliability and cybersecurity. The barriers include implementation of a legal framework for self-driving cars and establishment of government rules and regulations.

While internet giant Google is already championing the technology, several automakers have said publicly they will have autonomous cars by 2020, or earlier.

Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com