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What can we expect from driverless vehicles?

While driverless vehicles may seem quite unfamiliar now, over the years you may start to encounter them being used on a daily basis.

Around the world, projects are underway to help develop the technology that will ultimately bring driverless vehicles to our roads.

Sales of driverless cars are currently only in the thousands, however some are estimating that they could reach 10 million worldwide by 2030 – but that’s just a small fraction in comparison to the one billion cars that are already on the road.

Engineers are still working on how to handle some of the most difficult challenges of having driverless cars on the road.

For instance, think about what happens at crossroads – when drivers and pedestrians arrive at the same time and use a combination of gestures, eye contact and intuition to navigate safely at the junction. This type of communication stretches the abilities of machines.

Other challenges include weather conditions that could disrupt sensors and learning when to disobey traffic rules – for example when an emergency vehicle needs everyone to move out of its way.

These challenges are not something which the current driverless technology has been able to master, with humans often having to take control in road tests to avoid accidents.

There are also questions on whether the road rules for driverless vehicles are made national or on a more local level so that cities can adapt them for their own needs – and finding an agreement on any of the above challenges is difficult.

Below, however, are some possible scenarios of driverless vehicles - negative and positive:

  • People may have to give up the ownership of their cars, using on demand vehicles instead
  • Fewer vehicles on the road could free up more land – for housing or parks
  • Using driverless cars for everything could actually increase congestion and pollution
  • Cities may lose revenue fines
  • People working as drivers may need to find new careers

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