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Everything you ever wanted to know about automated vehicles

Last fall, David Ticoll (who is a research fellow at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto) published a thorough discussion paper called Driving Changes: Automated Vehicles in Toronto

If you’re interested in driverless cars, and I know that a lot of you are, then it’s definitely worth a weekend read. It’s fairly long. He gets into the various automation levels, the transition period, the implications for policy makers, the benefits, and so on.

Here’s a quick snippet on the topic of benefits:

“This report provides bottom-up analysis based on Toronto-specific data. The result is a conservative estimate that were AVs to be at a 90% adoption rate in Toronto today, the result would be annual savings of $6 billion, or 4% of the City’s $150 billion gross
domestic product. This includes $1.2 billion from reduced collisions, $2.7 billion out of congestion costs, $1.6 billion from insurance, and $0.5 billion from parking fees and fines. AVs will provide other quantifiable social and economic benefits that range from fewer deaths and hospitalizations thanks to lower particle emissions, to productivity gains in many business sectors.”

But of course there’s the question of: when will this happen? Below is a chart from the paper that was assembled using various consultant/analyst predictions. Based on this, we’re still over a decade away from the consumer adoption of automated vehicles.

However, these are just estimates and history has shown us that the adoption rate for new technologies has been increasing over time. Below is a chart by Michael Felton, which is also from the paper, that shows this phenomenon. Take a look at the telephone in comparison to the internet.

Maybe I’m being overly optimistic (it wouldn’t be the first time), but consumer-facing driverless cars, at least to me, feel pretty close to the horizon.

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