Tran­si­tion to au­tonomous ve­hi­cles un­der way

The Mercury - - OPINION & ANALYSIS -

and the use of ride-shar­ing ser­vices. There may also be calls for ded­i­cated lanes or road­ways to sep­a­rate AVs and driver-op­er­ated ve­hi­cles.

“The be­hav­iour of driv­ers and pedes­tri­ans to AVs, which is just be­gin­ning, is dif­fi­cult to pre­dict,” it said.

S&P added that while AVs would ul­ti­mately re­sult in fewer au­to­mo­tive deaths and in­juries, it was clear that public opin­ion would be de­fined by in­ci­dents and ca­su­al­ties dur­ing the test­ing phase.

“So­ci­ety may have lit­tle tol­er­ance for the in­evitable road ac­ci­dents and fa­tal­i­ties caused by AVs. Equally, how in­sur­ance com­pa­nies will adapt the poli­cies they write to take ac­count of driver­less cars is presently un­known.

“As AVs be­come con­nected to, and ul­ti­mately con­trolled by au­to­mated sys­tems, de­sign­ing cy­ber-se­cu­rity mea­sures to pro­tect against po­ten­tial hack­ing of crash pre­ven­tion sys­tems, caus­ing them to fail, will be an im­por­tant fac­tor in cus­tomer ac­cep­tance and crit­i­cal in as­sur­ing public safety,” it said.

S&P added that the pro­lif­er­a­tion of AVs would af­fect travel be­hav­iour and pat­terns.

Smart ve­hi­cles com­mu­ni­cat­ing with other ve­hi­cles and road­way in­fra­struc­ture could use real-time traf­fic data to an­tic­i­pate what was ahead, make bet­ter route choices and syn­chro­nise speeds to use shorter head­ways.

“All of this should re­sult in bet­ter use of in­fra­struc­ture, less ve­hi­cle flow break­down and less con­ges­tion,” it said.

S&P also be­lieved that ve­hi­cle own­er­ship pat­terns could change and with more AVs on the road, in­di­vid­ual car own­er­ship would face de­fla­tion­ary pres­sures, be­cause driver­less cars served mul­ti­ple pur­poses and pas­sen­gers.

It said there was the pos­si­bil­ity of shared or frac­tional own­er­ship, but be­lieved many peo­ple would still want to own a car, re­sult­ing in car own­er­ship re­main­ing sta­ble in the US, with po­ten­tially fewer ve­hi­cles per house­hold, but more house­holds own­ing a car.

S&P said AVs would have a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on em­ploy­ment down the road, be­cause they could dis­place a por­tion of the work­force whose pri­mary jobs was be­hind the wheel.

The US De­part­ment of Com­merce es­ti­mated last year that 15.5 mil­lion US work­ers had jobs that could be af­fected by AVs, which rep­re­sented about one in nine work­ers.

AVs could also dis­place in­sur­ance agents and ad­justers, car body re­pair­ers and me­chan­ics plus un­skilled and semi­skilled jobs re­lated to ve­hi­cle park­ing and traf­fic en­force­ment, S&P said.

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