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Electric vehicles and cars with sophisticated driver aids are no longer the stuff of science fiction – they’re increasingly commonplace. But here’s a question for you: how long before you expect to see roads full of automobiles that are talking to each other and driving themselves?
According to experts – even sooner. Violeta Bulc, European Union Commissioner for Transport, recently outlined her expectation for a new generation of autonomous vehicles in the EU, stating that she expects full self-driving vehicle capability by 2030.
That’s just a little over ten years away… Basically tomorrow as far as the industry is concerned. If this date is indeed achievable, the next decade is likely to see road transportation change significantly.
This push towards automation comes from a desire to achieve a range of transport-related improvements. One of those principal requirements is the enhancement of road safety.
In the European Union, roughly 90% of road fatalities and automotive-related injuries are attributed to human error. As such, it’s a goal of the European Commission to encourage the introduction of self-driving vehicles to help toward its Vision Zero Initiative commitment, which counts amongst its aspirations an aim to reduce road deaths to almost zero by 2050.
In fact, European authorities are currently examining and implementing a range of measures aimed at encouraging road safety improvements through greater use of technology.
In her address to the City as a Lab conference, Commissioner Bulc also made reference to 15 new automation and safety features proposed this year. These form part of a new set of vehicular technologies that are expected to become mandatory across the EU by 2022. Amongst others, they include lane keeping and speed assistance functions, emergency braking, accident data recording, and distraction + drowsiness sensors.
In addition, the European Commission and the European Parliament are currently deadlocked over whether to favor implementation of a 5G technology or a Wi-Fi-based system as the standard for connected vehicle communication. The hope is that connectivity of the kind provided by these systems can pave the way for safer roads and more advanced services in support of the full introduction of self-driving vehicles.
The expected arrival of autonomous vehicles in Europe is part of a wider aspiration for the region to become a world leader for fully-automated and connected mobility.
Achieving full mobility will mean pushing more toward multimodal transport that can link private and public services with vehicles through integrated systems. Critically, it also means enabling consumers to take advantage of advances in technology to access innovative, new transportation solutions through apps on their smartphones.
Ultimately, automated cars will definitely bring huge transformation on the roads, as well as equally significant changes to the way consumers interact with all of the available transit services.