Cities all over the world are getting ready for the advent of autonomous vehicles. A number of smart cities, including New York and Atlanta, are now redesigning their transport infrastructure so as to integrate self-driving technology and provide a more convenient service to their citizens. And it's not a moment too soon to prepare for this change of gear: a recent report published by research and consultancy firm Juniper Research forecasts that 50 million self-driving vehicles will be circulating on roads all over the globe by 2026. If this figure looks rather high, it definitely seems less so when set against the 1.5 billion vehicles of all kinds that are expected to be in circulation at that data. Juniper predicts that in eight years' time, driverless cars will account for just 0.3% of the total number of road vehicles in operation. Two of the world's regions will be out in front – the United States on the one hand, with 10 million autonomous vehicles in circulation; and the Far East (Japan, Singapore, China, Malaysia, South Korea) on the other, with a total of 15 million self-driving cars in use across these countries. Meanwhile, a number of obstacles – both in the technical field and on the regulatory front – remain to be overcome. Nevertheless, the automobile manufacturers do have a powerful ally in some countries, in the shape of the government: this is the case for China, the United States, the UK and The Netherlands, where policies are in place to promote the use of self-driving cars. This official support is likely to help reassure potential users, who are currently – according to the latest surveys – far from showing unanimous enthusiasm for this new form of road mobility.
By Sophia Qadiri