Don’t get too attached to your steering wheel and brake pedal because self-driving cars could be hitting our roads sooner than you think.
The first privately-owned driverless vehicles could start appearing in New Zealand in as little as two years, once European manufacturers start bringing them to market, Transport Minister Simon Bridges says.
Bridges is in the German city of Leipzig to attend the International Transport Forum’s annual summit, where a lot of the talk has been about the rapid pace of driverless car technology and how it could dramatically reduce the number of vehicles clogging up our roads.
Yep, they may be a great way to reduce congestion.
The International Transport Forum – a global think-tank for transport policy – unveiled the results of a major study into the impact of self-driving cars at its summit on Thursday.
It discovered that a fleet of self-driving shared cars could make 90 per cent of conventional cars in a mid-sized city superfluous.
Researchers used actual transport data from Lisbon, Portugal to model the impact of two types of self-driving cars: those shared simultaneously by several passengers, dubbed TaxiBots, and those that pick-up and drop-off single passengers, known as AutoVots.
It found that a large-scale uptake of TaxiBots, in conjunction with high-capacity public transport, would remove nine out of every ten cars from the road without hindering people’s mobility.
I’d happily get rid of my car, if affordable taxibots were available for the occasional car trip. Most of us only use our cars a fraction of the day.
Sarah Hunter, head of public policy at Google’s technology development facility Google[x], said the world was on the cusp of having cars and planes that required no interaction from humans at all, apart from inputting a destination.
“It can take you from A to B without you ever being involved. In fact, it’s so autonomous, it doesn’t require a steering wheel or brake.”
Such vehicles would dramatically reduce the number of road accidents, which statistics showed were 94 per cent down to human error.
“It’s not the car that brakes, it’s the human that doesn’t brake,” she said.
“[Self-driving cars] never get drunk, they never get tired, they never get distracted by a text message.”
Self-driving cars would also improve the quality of life for many, including the blind and elderly who cannot drive.
The is the future, and it will be in our lifetime.