Transition to autonomous vehicles under way
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.