Study: Self-Driving Cars Could Arrive Sooner Than You Think Page 2

August 7, 2012

Audi TTS "Shelley" Autonomous Car

In the study's "base case" scenario -- neither conservative nor aggressive -- autonomous vehicles would be treated like high-occupancy vehicles, given their own lane(s) for transit. Since many cities already have dedicated HOV lanes, this wouldn't require a massive investment on the infrastructure front. The autonomous vehicles might move in "road trains", like the kind recently tested by Volvo in Spain. Over time, more lanes could be dedicated to autonomous vehicles, without municipal governments breaking the bank to keep up.

Implications for investment: Ultimately, autonomous vehicles stand to provide more efficient transportation to the public as well as financial benefits to consumers, governments, and the private sector. For example, fewer crashes mean less demand on some emergency services. Fewer traffic jams could lead to greater productivity.

But this part isn't without it's problems. Fewer crashes mean less demand for steel, which affects a broad range of interests. And as America becomes more urbanized, car-sharing may become more common, meaning less demand for car ownership -- which manufacturers probably won't like.

Bottom line: like the rise of the internet economy, the evolution of the autonomous car will cause huge shifts in the way we live and do business. If you have time, you can download the entire report in PDF form by clicking here. (It's only about 30 pages long, so it's a quick, interesting read.)

Does this sound reasonable to you? Does the inevitable arrival of autonomous vehicles tickle you pink or make you see red? Drop us a line, or leave a note in the comments below.

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