If you follow the headlines as do a lot of people, you’ll note today’s youngest drivers have less-to-no interest in driving automobiles. While marketers are chasing the elusive “Gen Y” species with a variety of lures, perhaps these younger folks’ sensibility is a sign of things to come, given a recent pronouncement that by 2040 three out of four cars will be autonomous.
This prediction for 75 percent driverless vehicles comes via eminent members of the world’s largest professional association for the advancement of technology, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).
Over the next 28 years, they say, vehicular travel and the automotive landscape as we know it will radically evolve toward driverless cars.
These driverless cars – be they propelled by internal combustion, hybrid, all-electric, fuel cell, flux capacitor or other powertrains – will be a catalyst to this future thanks to networking between vehicles, at intersections, roadways, and anywhere else needed to make it all work.
“Drivers and passengers are hesitant to believe in the technology enough to completely hand over total control,” said Jeffrey Miller, IEEE member and associate Professor in the Computer Systems Engineering department at University of Alaska. “Car manufacturers have already started to incorporate automated features, including parallel parking assistance, automatic braking systems and drowsy driver protection, to help people slowly ease into utilizing driverless technologies. Over the next 28 years, use of more automated technologies will spark a snowball effect of acceptance and driverless vehicles will dominate the road.”
Essentially playing the role of futurists, distinguished engineers have also speculated a day in which designated autonomous vehicle lanes make safe travel at speeds of 100 mph by cars with no one at the wheel.
At least this is the view of Alberto Broggi, IEEE Senior Member and professor of Computer Engineering at the University of Parma in Italy.
And, if his projection comes true, and travel is at the same time more efficient and less life threatening, one could start to maybe see the appeal, if you do not already, that is.
On the other hand, driving has long been considered a pastime, a personal freedom enjoyed, a skill pursued. There will be those who reject the notion of tearing up their drivers license and letting a machine take control of the wheel.
Will it be an expansion of liberty, just neutrally “different,” or could it be entry into a gilded cage?
What do you think? Will you believe it when you see it? Or can your mind’s eye see it now?