Driver at the wheel?

Self-driving cars can change our society radically. Whether that happens depends on how much the car can actually do itself, but also on what the consumer wants. Will cars become a luxury second home or does a car driver remain a necessity? Also the sharing-economy has an impact. If many people will share self-driving vehicles and rides, this may change the traffic and transport system fundamentally.

These are some of the conclusions of the report 'Driver at the wheel - Self-driving vehicles and the traffic and transport system of the future' by KiM Netherlands Institute for Transport Policy Analysis. This report presents four scenarios for a future traffic and transport system with self-driving vehicles. These images differ from each other in terms of technology and acceptance (or, how 'automatic' will the self-driving car become?) and in terms of the extent to which consumers intend to share car ownership and rides.

The images indicate that fully automated driving is no obviousness. In two of the scenarios that stage will not even be reached and people will keep their hands on the wheel in the city. Only on highways the car is able to take over all driving tasks. In addition, the report shows that the extent to which people may share vehicles but also rides will make much difference to how society will look like. If the car can drive independently everywhere at any time and people remain attached to private property than streets will be full of these kinds of cars of different brands. As the technology continues so far, it is also conceivable that every time people need a car, they can order one on demand. These shared cars will be owned by large companies, who will park their vehicles on the outskirts of the city. This will change the streetscape significantly.