When will driverless cars REALLY be here?

This is probably one of the top questions I get asked and it’s a tough one to answer.  I addressed this to some degree in an earlier post.  As shown in this Driverless Future blog post, just about every car maker and technology developer is estimating to have driverless technology available to the public in the 2020-2025 timeframe (Google and a few others are forecasting even earlier).  But when will they REALLY be integrated in society?

I attended a panel a couple of weeks ago where the panel members had wildly different answers to the timing question:

  • Ashwini Chhabra, Uber’s lead for policy development stated “in the 2020s.”
  • Sarah Hunter, head of policy at Google X, stated “As soon as the CA DMV puts out its regulations.”
  • Steve Schladover, a program manager at California Partners for Advanced Transportation Technology, a UC Berkeley research institute, stated “2075 maybe.”

So why the wild fluctuation in answers? Technology is not the only aspect of autonomous vehicles that needs to get figured out.  As shown in this study, 49% of people surveyed are not interested in owning a driverless vehicle and 46% of people surveyed believe driverless cars will not be safe. The human acceptance factor combined with the fact that cyber-security laws, data privacy laws, and insurance policies haven’t yet been figured out, means that it could be awhile.

That all being said, I believe that the marketplace will win. The advancement of this technology by the private sector will drive government regulators, insurance providers, and drivers to adapt.  Do you agree?

By the way, come see me speak at any of these upcoming events: Shared Use Mobility conference, IDA Annual Conference, or the American Planning Association Oakland chapter conference.

About Lauren Isaac

Lauren Isaac is the Director of Business Initiatives for the North American operation of EasyMile. Easymile provides electric, driverless shuttles that are designed to cover short distances in multi-use environments. Prior to working at EasyMile, Lauren worked at WSP where she was involved in various projects involving advanced technologies that can improve mobility in cities. Lauren wrote a guide titled “Driving Towards Driverless: A Guide for Government Agencies” regarding how local and regional governments should respond to autonomous vehicles in the short, medium, and long term. In addition, Lauren maintains the blog, “Driving Towards Driverless”, and has presented on this topic at more than 75 industry conferences. She recently did a TEDx Talk, and has been published in Forbes and the Chicago Tribune among other publications.
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2 Responses to When will driverless cars REALLY be here?

  1. Good one!! I think you should do the plug for your speaking gigs in a few more posts!

    CIA cheryl.i.aaron@gmail.com


  2. The timing for such innovations is always very different, but I think that such a total change will not happen soon.


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