What once seemed futuristic is now a reality with the value of the global market for autonomous vehicles expected to grow to $557 billion by 2026. The U.S. transportation infrastructure of the future will need to be designed and built for autonomous systems and prioritize technological interoperability among systems. Intelligent traffic systems that are integrated with a vehicle's management systems can be joined with roadside units in which information is exchanged to inform drivers and passengers of construction, roadwork, accidents and weather-related scenarios, such as icy streets and overpasses. Traffic signaling, interactive sensor-enabled signage, and an information infrastructure that works seamlessly with physical infrastructure can improve the reliability of advanced driver assistance systems while avoiding collisions.
This comes after ride-sharing companies have expanded globally, with well-known companies like Uber and Lyft altering the public's approach to transportation by allowing people to easily travel without actually having to own a vehicle. Companies have also explored other forms of shared transportation from bikes to scooters, and major automakers are competing to perfect self-driving vehicle technology.
"A strong case can be made that driverless cars without human controls are actually safer," Light says. Indeed, if certain projections hold true, it would appear humans can't get out of the driver's seat soon enough. Research and consultant group McKinsey & Co., for instance, says vehicle crashes are expected to go from being the second-most common cause of accidental death to ninth by the middle of this century, thanks mainly to driverless cars.