Autonomous Vehicles Will all but Eradicate Road Deaths

A leading futurologist has predicted the number of road deaths in developed countries will be close to zero, by 2040 while road traffic accidents will be significantly reduced.

Ray Hammond has said autonomous vehicles will become the norm and smart streets and highways will transform the network infrastructure.

Allianz Partners has launched ‘Mobility of the Future’ authored by Mr Hammond, which predicts that mobility across the world will become cleaner, safer and more efficient than ever over the next 20 years.

The launch of the report forms part of the company’s “The World in 2040” futurology series.

Allianz Partners said it commissioned the report to help them anticipate the mobility-focused needs of their customers over the coming decades.

Mr Hammond said: “There are four major trends which are shaping the future of mobility and driving governments to intervene now in order to abruptly change the future of road transport and, in turn, the future of cities. These are: the rapid increase in urban air pollution; climate change; the falling cost of renewable energy generation; and the developments in vehicle battery technology.”

The report identifies key trends which will, collectively, revolutionize the mobility landscape by 2040:

Advances in technology will result in very few major traffic accidents and few severe injuries and deaths on the road.

‘Driver-assist’ technology such as automatic braking, pedestrian sensing, forward collision warning, lane departure warnings, blind spot detection and driver alertness monitoring will help the general public learn about the developing phases of self-driving automation and demonstrate that autonomous vehicles will actually be far safer than cars driven by humans.

Long-distance and goods vehicles will be self-driving, allowing for manual control when a vehicle must make a rural journey to an area that lacks smart roads and network infrastructure.

The study added tech companies like Apple, Google and Uber may compete in the future of transport with current automotive manufacturers, as cars will be built around IT and software.

We will also see a change in how vehicles are owned.

The report contends most city dwellers in developed countries will no longer own a private car but will become subscribers to mobility instead. For short journeys, they will increasingly adapt to electric cycles and scooters supplied via sharing schemes.

Inside driverless vehicles, passengers will be able to use journey times to work, play, sleep, socialize (locally and remotely), indulge in virtual travel, or to educate themselves.

Unsurprisingly it is predicted fossil fuel powered vehicles will shift to electric cars.

Driverless electric taxis will meet the public’s transport needs, bringing passengers to their destination for a price equivalent to today’s bus fares.

The new vehicles and the greater reliance on technology will create new risks.

“It will be vital that strong cyber security systems must be built into the road traffic networks to prevent vehicles and roads being disrupted,” added the report. “It’s likely that in 2040, traffic police forces will largely be replaced by traffic cyber security forces who will focus on keeping our roads and all forms of automotive transport safe from malicious or criminal interference.”

Claudius Leibfritz, CEO Automotive and Member of the Board of Management at Allianz Partners acknowledged that different developments in society, business and technology are driving a tremendous change in the mobility landscape. “This report highlights the impact that increased urbanization, environmental concerns, technology, changing patterns in car ownership and mobility consumer behaviour will have long term on the automotive industry.

“For insurers this means a paradigm shift – but an exciting one, leading to a future where mobility will be cleaner, safer and more efficient. At Allianz Automotive we actively support this evolution by offering new products and service solutions for the emerging mobility ecosystem to meet changing customer needs. Connected, Autonomous, Shared, Electric (CASE) is the new normal for the industry, and we are continuously developing solutions in close collaboration with our automotive manufacturers and mobility provider partners.”

He added: “We are already intensively working on relevant new developments, such as the increasing demand for services for fleets. The rise of intermodal mobility requires smooth and seamless mobility services for the individual instead of just the protection of property and assets. And we see a change in liability as manufacturers’ liability gains in importance. Also, while the increasingly sophisticated technology of autonomous vehicles will on the one side decrease the frequency and severity of accidents, on the other side cyber security and cyber insurance will become more important than ever.”