Most cars autonomous by 2050: study

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A study by industry data and consulting firm IHS predicts that, by 2050, nearly all road vehicles will be of the self-driving variety.

(Credit: Google)

Self-driving cars are growing more sophisticated, and ever closer to mainstream use — and that's a good thing, too, given the safety track record of Google's version. But, once that happens, it won't be long before the technology proliferates — at least according to research and data firm IHS's Automotive division.

The company has conducted a study of the future of the self-driving car that predicts that nearly every vehicle on the road will be driverless by 2050.

According to IHS, there will be 230,000 self-driving cars on the roads worldwide by 2025. By 2035 — just 10 years later — that figure will have leapt to 11.8 million, including seven million with both driver and autonomous controls and 4.8 million that are fully autonomous. The total number of self-driving cars on the road in 2035 (which includes sales from previous years) will total 54 million.

"There are several benefits from self-driving cars to society, drivers and pedestrians," said Egil Juliussen, principal analyst for infotainment and autonomous driver assisted systems at IHS Automotive. "Accident rates will plunge to near zero for self-driving cars, although other cars will crash into SDCs, but as the market share of SDCs on the highway grows, overall accident rates will decline steadily. Traffic congestion and air pollution per car should also decline because self-driving cars can be programmed to be more efficient in their driving patterns."

Companies that are currently working on autonomous car technology include the aforementioned Google, Mercedes-Benz and Ford.

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