It will be at least 12 years before fully autonomous vehicles are sold to private buyers, experts say. Even by 2034, driverless vehicles are only expected to account for 10% of the vehicles bought and sold. Whether you’re looking forward to the days of robotic vehicles or worried about the future of automotive technology, it’s hard to dispute the benefits autonomous vehicles offer.
1. Fewer Accidents
“Worldwide, nearly 1.3 million people die in a car accident each year or 3,287 per day,” says Pace Law Firm, personal injury lawyers. “For their families and loved ones, autonomous vehicles cannot arrive fast enough.”
According to the United States Department of Transportation, 94% of fatal vehicle accidents are caused by human error.
Autonomous vehicles have the potential to significantly reduce accident-related injuries and deaths. The U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee estimates that self-driving vehicles will reduce traffic deaths by 90% and save 30,000 lives per year.
With fully autonomous vehicles, drunken and drugged driving accidents would become a thing of the past.
2. Less Traffic Congestion
Each year, Americans spend more than 6.9 billion hours sitting in traffic. A traffic congestion study from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that stop-and-go waves of traffic could be eliminated with as little as 5% of vehicles being automated and carefully controlled.
Decreasing the number of accidents would also reduce congestion, as up to 25% of congestion is caused by accidents.
3. Lower CO2 Emissions and Fuel Consumption
Less congestion will also help lower CO2 emissions. Because autonomous vehicles are controlled by computers, software can be programmed to reduce emissions to the maximum extent. The transition to autonomous vehicles is projected to reduce emissions by as much as 60%.
Autonomous vehicle technology also has the potential to improve fuel economy by 4-10 percent, as these vehicles accelerate and decelerate more smoothly than human drivers. Over time, and as the number of crashes is reduced, vehicles could be made much lighter which would further improve fuel economy.
4. Improved Transportation Accessibility
Many older adults and people with disabilities cannot drive, even with vehicle modifications. Autonomous vehicles would make transportation more easily accessible.
Self-driving cars would make tasks like going to the doctor or visiting family easier for seniors and those with disabilities.
5. Less Travel Time and Costs
Self-driving vehicles have the potential to reduce travel time and fuel consumption by up to 40%. The cost- and time-saving benefits are expected to be worth at least $1.3 trillion in the U.S.
Driverless vehicles could improve highway capacity by up to 100% and expressway speeds by over 20%. If autonomous vehicles can travel more closely together, creating what’s called a “hypothetical continuous train,” more care can travel on the highway with fewer interruptions.
Research shows that this platooning of autonomous vehicles could increase lane capacity by as much as 500%.
6. Improved Parking Efficiency
Autonomous vehicles eliminate the need for street and lot parking. A third of the land in some cities is dedicated to parking. Autonomous vehicles could potentially free up this land for other uses.
With personal driverless vehicles, the vehicle could drop the passenger off and park itself away from the destination. Autonomous cars also require 15% less parking space, as there is no need to leave space for drivers to enter and exit their vehicle. Cars can be stacked right next to each other.