The pace of development of AVs is breathtaking. A year ago, some would have argued that they would never become a reality. But now, AVs are being piloted in a number of countries and are running on public roads, albeit only in a handful of locations such as Phoenix in the US State of Arizona and in Singapore. The question is no longer whether but when all road vehicles become fully autonomous. And whether you believe that will take 10 years or 30, the implications are so far-reaching that policymakers need to start planning now for our AV future.
We believe there will be rapid development and adoption of AVs, because of the alignment of interest of private developers and public authorities.
Companies including the dominant vehicle makers, technology giants and specialist startups have invested US$50 billion over the last 5 years to develop AV technology, with 70 percent of the spending coming from outside the automotive sector.2
At the same time, public authorities can see that AVs offer huge potential economic and social benefits. AVs could
eliminate the 90–95
percent of road accidents caused by human error,3 saving as many as a million lives every year. Assuming they are electric, they should also reduce road pollution, improving citizens’ health.4 AVs offer mobility benefits to people who are unable to drive at present, including the elderly, those who do not own a car and those who live in rural areas that do not have adequate public transport. And the hours spent driving which now become
productive creates a potentially gigantic economic boost, with one study estimating that the US economy could see an uplift of US$1.3 trillion a year.5
For these reasons and others, many governments are keen to move towards an AV future as soon as possible.
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