Rapidly advancing vehicle autonomy could see the demise of the driving test as the need for road skills and driving ability take a back seat.
Automotive data and valuations specialists HPI believe that 25 years from now the driving test may well have become obsolete.
“Vehicle autonomy will undoubtedly be the greatest driver of change the automotive sector has ever witnessed,” Matt Freeman, a consultant with HPI, predicted. “We can expect this to impact every facet of the industry from the way vehicles are made to the way they are sold and driven.”
With many car companies currently showcasing limited self-driving technologies, from traffic jam management to highway autopilot, Matt Freeman expects consumer resistance to decline in proportion to peoples’ experience of the technology. Moreover, the driving test will need to adapt to the roll-out of vehicle autonomy to ensure new drivers are prepared for a rapidly changing driving environment.
As part of its 80-year anniversary, HPI asked a panel of industry experts for their predictions over the next 80 years. The specialists offered insight across a number of issues, from technology and innovation, vehicle design, fuel, buying and selling vehicles and car crime:
· Cars will become fully connected and synchronized, resulting in significantly fewer accidents.
· Virtual co-pilots will control more of our driving, enabling automatic lane changes and parking.
· The next five years will see motorists increasingly buying personalised cars online with virtual test drives and home delivery, and in ten years’ time will move from car ownership to ‘usership’ with traditional dealers offering leasing and subscription services.
· Internet will be standard in all vehicles in the next five to ten years, meaning connectivity to mobiles, work and home appliances will be commonplace.
· Within a decade there’ll be more focus on the interior than the exterior of the car, with touch screens, entertainment, refreshments and comfort all incorporated within the design.
· The next ten to 20 years will see autonomous cars completely changing travel, with motorists able to work, socialise and even sleep when driving.
· Within two decades, steering wheels will be a thing of the past.
Matt Freeman added: “Ultimately, the car will become a pod in which people travel to and from their destinations. They will be able to do other things such as work online, have conversations, play games or even sleep while in transit, so the need for road awareness, directions and understanding road signs and signals will be redundant.
“Consumer resistance to driverless cars should not be under-estimated – there are still those who steer clear of satellite navigation, and occasional media stories about drivers ending up off-road due to obsolete mapping show they may have a point! However, for most drivers, driving is a chore, and the banality of modern commuting will push an increasing number of people to explore the technology.”