Of course, there are those that enjoy driving, but there is no escaping the fact that roads will become safer. Over 90% of accidents are caused by human error. Introduce a qualified and certified autonomous driving system and the human factor is removed from the equation, allowing an infallible digital system to control the vehicle within defined parameters. In the future, such vehicles will be further enhanced by city networks and sensors, not only will accidents be a rarity, speeding and parking fines will be a thing of the past too. Not to mention the fact that alcohol will no longer present an issue for the driver or other road users.
The need for vehicle ownership may even become redundant. Rather than individuals or families owning vehicles that are only used for relatively short and or inefficient journeys, cars could be in-use and available 24/7. This would make them more economical and lower their environmental impact. Automated driving systems managed by complex software and high-powered computers will potentially also result a significant reduction in energy consumption by optimising driving efficiency. In addition, electric vehicles are lowering reliance upon fossil fuels with renewable energy and battery technology seeing rapid advances. Reliable solar powered cars with a decent range are even on the horizon.
The replacement of people in vehicles by machines has the potential to cause massive workforce realignment. The insurance industry will have to adapt its stance as the driver is removed from the responsibility equation. There is also the cultural impact to consider, similar impacts were seen with the introduction of electronically captured biometrics with people initially perceiving the technology as highly suspicious and not to be trusted. Culturally, another result could be that cars will likely become less of a personal, aspirational commodity and much more of a functional one, a fact that could have sizeable effects on the automotive industry impacting sales figures, turnover and profits.