Science

Self-employed cars will be safer

Cars without drivers are already being tested on the roads and experts believe that with them there will be fewer accidents.

In 2030, autonomous cars could account for 20% of all registrations in Spain, according to data from the consulting firm MSI presented at the Madrid Auto 2018 fair. This figure would be reached in an optimistic scenario and gradually, after going from 0.5% in 2020 to 7.5% in 2025. On the contrary, if the necessary technological and legal advances are not made, vehicles without a driver will only reach 10% in 2030. “Autonomous, connected and electric vehicles and shared cars will still take years to occupy a remarkable volume in the total number of registered vehicles,” said Marta Blázquez, vice-president of Faconauto, an association of official dealers in Spain, during the fair.

Today there are still no 100 percent autonomous cars on the road. There are already enough cars with a certain degree of automation, especially level 2, which involves assistance in steering tasks, braking or acceleration, but always controlled by the driver. It also begins to see models of level 3, with greater autonomy, but with the human being always supervising the environment and ready to put itself in command when the system asks for it. “The move to highly automated driving (level 4) will be significant. The driver will be able to focus on other tasks while sitting in the car and become a passenger,” explains Lorenzo Jiménez García, press officer at Bosch Spain. It will be during the 2020s when presumably these cars will arrive in significant numbers on urban roads and highways. In fact, in 2020 Bosch plans to launch the motorway autopilot, which does not require constant driver supervision. This will undoubtedly be a major step forward. To reach the maximum level of automation, level 5, experts predict that more than a decade will have to pass, although they are reluctant to give a specific date. In this scenario, cars will be able to carry out all driving tasks, without the user having to monitor the environment or regain control.

“If we talk about research projects, there are already companies that are experimenting in level 5 controlled conditions and some even offer level 4 mobility services that circulate on the roads”, points out Aitor Fernández Martín, president of AEVAC, the Spanish Association of Connected Autonomous Vehicles. However, these cases only take place in specific points, perfectly delimited, and with very favorable traffic conditions and climate.

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