|According to a new study, the rise of driverless cars could lead to a 90% reduction in auto accidents in the U.S., saving thousands of lives and up to $190 billion in damages and healthcare costs each year.
The study, compiled by consulting group McKinsey and Company and released March 5, is based on interviews with dozens of officials across the automotive industry.
“Autonomous vehicles and the path toward them is one of the most shaping trends in the auto industry today,” Hans-Werner Kaas, a senior partner in McKinsey’s automotive practice, said in a statement.
This report predicts that mass adoption of driverless passenger vehicles will occur in approximately 15 years. Google’s self-driving car fleet has already traveled about 700,000 miles, with no serious accidents; Uber has also announced it will make a play in the driverless car market, and well-established automakers such as Volvo and Mercedes-Benz have also said they are focusing on self-driving technology.
Elon Musk, of Tesla Motors, has said that a fully autonomous car will be completed within the next five years.
Within the auto industry, Automotive IT pointed out March 9, service shops will need to quickly train technicians and purchase new equipment to deal with an influx of autonomous vehicles. Of course, not everyone in the industry agrees on how soon such changes might occur and with what urgency automotive training and service outlets should act.
“I don’t see this technology being common for another 20 or more years. The liability is enormous for car manufacturers and insurance companies,” said Stan Creech, owner of Creech Imports. “We won’t wake up one day and see in the new that ‘self driving cars’ are now available. The change will take place slowly as systems are perfected one step at a time, such as braking for example. Once automatic braking (backup braking to avoid collision) is perfected, then it’s on to the next system. Steering, navigation, basic maneuvers such as lane changing, ect. all must be addressed. This is a huge step for auto technology. Don’t expect self driving cars anytime soon.”
Indirectly, the rise of driverless cars could even lead to a boost for the overall economy as travelers spend less time driving and more time browsing and shopping on the web. The study estimates that for each additional minute that driverless-vehicle occupants spend online, about $5.6 billion a year could be generated.