They’ve long been the stuff of science fiction, but a new study predicts that once they come to market in the near future, autonomous vehicles will rapidly become a very popular reality.
The study, titled “Emerging Technologies: Autonomous Cars — Not If, But When,” predicts that by 2035, self-driving cars, or SDCs, will account for half the vehicles sold in North America. Worldwide sales will reach about 11.8 million, according to IHS Automotive, which prepared the report. By 2050, the consulting firm predicts, almost all vehicles will offer an autonomous mode.
Officials at Nissan recently promised to put their first autonomous vehicles into production by 2020, and a number of other makers have since made similar announcements. The IHS report notes that the first generation of these vehicles will actually require a human co-pilot to sit at the ready in case the technology develops a problem – much like an aircraft autopilot. But it anticipates truly independent, self-driving vehicles requiring no human involvement will begin to be offered by 2030. (more…)