IEEE Predict That 75% of Cars Will Be Autonomous By 2040

While flying cars and homes built high into the sky still seem to be out of reach for the foreseeable future, one group of experts believes that we'll see sweeping changes in the way we travel by car in the coming years. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers have made the bold prediction that 75% of the world's vehicles will be autonomous by 2040.

The group, which contains the world's largest professional organization dedicated to advancing technology for humanity, are putting their faith in the autonomous vehicle as the most promising form of intelligent transportation of the future. While it may seem like a bold prediction, one of the group's senior members, Dr. Alberto Broggi (a professor of computer engineering at the University of Parma in Italy) is already an expert on the subject. Broggi was the director of a 2010 project that enabled two driverless cars to successfully complete an 8,000-mile road trip from Parma to Shanghai, China.

When it comes to transportation, one of the more obvious hurdles that must be overcome is the need to establish and build infrastructure, which the group believes already gives autonomous cars an advantage compared to other forms of transportation. Broggi believes that autonomous cars of tomorrow could simply travel on existing roadways (with modified traffic control systems in place), sparking dramatic changes to intersections, traffic flows, and highways, which will all but end the need for drivers' licenses.

Broggi and his colleagues anticipate that driverless cars will operate by using sensors equipped in each vehicle that will allow vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication, which will mean the end for traffic lights and stop signs. Broggi believes that intersections equipped with sensors, cameras, and radar systems will monitor and control traffic flow, helping to promote more efficient traffic patterns, and help eliminate driver collisions.

Dr. Azim Eskandarian, the director of the Center for Intelligent Systems Research and IEEE member, believes that new traffic flow systems combined with more autonomous vehicles on the road will revolutionize highway travel as well. He believes that future highways will utilize their own designated lanes for autonomous and traditional vehicles, which will help minimize traffic jams, increase efficiency, and allow for faster speeds. This will enable autonomous vehicles to travel more safely than they would in traditional highway traffic, and enable the self-driving vehicles to drive faster with closer gaps between cars while platooning – having a lead car with other autonomous cars in tow. In fact, Broggi said that he believes autonomous cars should be able to safely travel at speeds up to 100 mph.

While potential benefits of using the system could truly be breakthrough, there are a number of obstacles that must be overcome before autonomous cars can become a reality. For the IEEE, the biggest roadblock will be the consumer. So far, drivers have remained hesitant to get behind the widespread adoption of driverless cars, according to the IEEE. However, the advent of new technologies, such as self-parking features, auto-brake, and lane-departure assistance systems, may help change consumers' minds as they trickle down to more affordable vehicles.

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