Humans behind the wheel – outlawed by 2050?

According to a new report by market researcher IDTechEX on autonomous cars, robotaxis and sensors, human driving could be illegal due to safety reasons by 2050.

Autonomous cars and their systems are getting more and more advanced; therefore, they are expected to exceed human driving safety as early as 2024. The report claims that by 2040 collisions on the road could be a relic of the past.

Taking a closer look at driving history, parameters around driving get increasingly restricted. Speed limits were introduced, seat belts mandated, and city centers, as the most current development, pedestrianized. All those measures are being taken assignable to safety concerns. Furthermore, clean air zones control which types of vehicles are allowed into certain city areas or even the whole city. Thereby providing the citizens with cleaner air and reduce carbon emissions.

As autonomous driving systems continue to mature, those restricted areas could be transformed into autonomy-only zones. Eventually this trend will develop further, leading to a future, in which it will be illegal for humans to drive on road by themselves. The result: Manual driving will be a sport reserved for the racetrack.

Another observation hinting towards a human driving ban is the fact that new technology always changed the laws surrounding driving cars. Faster cars lead to speed limits, the invention of mobile phones to them being outlawed to use while driving. Hence the next step could be to forbid humans to drive by themselves. Adding to the possibility of only allowing autonomous cars on the roads, are the capabilities, or rather the lack of them, of humans. Computers are built and programmed to deal with a lot more data than a human ever will be able to. Not only do they deal with the data more quickly, they are also capable of processing it much faster and with many fewer mistakes than humans.

Today the autonomous driving systems of the top players in the business, Waymo and Cruise, are capable of controlling the vehicles without disengagements for around 30.000 miles. As stated by the report, this number will double each year. At this rate they will meet the total human population’s mobility needs by 2050, while causing fewer than one collision per year.


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