Wednesday, June 29, 2022

95% of Passenger Miles Will Be in Autonomous Vehicles by 2030

95% of Passenger Miles Will Be in Autonomous Vehicles by 2030

Autonomous cars will dominate the roads by 2030, says a recently released study by RethinkX, a think tank led by author Tony Seba and technology investor James Arbib.

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The report estimated that although regular internal-combustion-engine vehicles will still comprise about 40% of the vehicles in the US, they will only provide about 5% of passenger miles. The overwhelming majority will be driven by transport-as-a-service (TaaS) vehicles that will be electric and fully autonomous.

Cost Savings Will Drive Autonomous Adoption

The researchers attributed their predictions largely to economic factors. They estimated transportation via TaaS will be up to ten times cheaper per mile than buying a new car, and up to four times cheaper than operating an existing one. The numbers are compelling: the cost of buying and operating a new car in 2030 is estimated at 78 cents per mile, while using TaaS in a carpooling scenario could cost as little as 3 cents.

Google driverless carThe implied savings per household is significant. Switching from traditional driving to autonomous car pooling could save the average family $5,600 annually, the equivalent of receiving a 10% increase in income.

TaaS vehicles are less costly due to the fact they are utilized ten times more than a vehicle that is individually owned (40% vs 4% utilization). Additionally, electric cars will drive 500,000 miles over their lifetimes, while most internal-combustion-engine vehicles will only yield 200,000.

The report went on to posit that the low cost-per-mile will create new opportunities for seemingly unrelated businesses. Its “Starbucks on Wheels” example imagines a scenario where the coffee giant could comfortably absorb the cost of its customers’ commutes if they ordered a $3 cappuccino.

Self-Driving Cars Have a Long Road Ahead

Not everyone is as optimistic about the future of transportation, however. In the recently concluded Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Toyota Research Institute CEO Gill Pratt said that no one in the automobile or IT industries was “close to achieving true Level 5 autonomy.”

The “levels” indicate the sophistication of a car’s software and hardware. Some companies are aiming for Level 4 autonomy before rolling out a mass-market product, explained Jim McBride, autonomous vehicles expert at Ford.

Level 4 cars will be able to handle the majority of urban driving scenarios, while Level 5 indicates vehicles can handle even extreme, off-road environments.

Pratt also noted that society had come to accept the average 39,000 traffic fatalities a year in the US as a consequence of errors in human drivers’ judgement. However, he theorized that it would never tolerate similar fatalities from cars controlled by computers.

In contrast, McKinsey researchers reported that autonomous vehicles could potentially reduce those traffic fatalities by as much as 90%, saving as many as 1.5 million lives by mid-century.

Are you looking forward to an autonomous vehicle future? Why or why not? Let us know.

Images via Wikimedia Commons







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