Would you get into a self-driving car?

By 2040, almost one in five cars in Switzerland is predicted to be fully automated, with everyone on board able to close their eyes and (in theory) relax. But attitudes to mobility, in particular to car sharing, are going to have to change to prevent increased demands on energy resources and the environment.

This content was published on February 8, 2017

“Automated cars will make road traffic safer, more fluid and result in a better use of available car capacity,” according to a Federal Roads Office reportExternal link published in December.

“Furthermore, self-driving vehicles [SDV] will increase mobility access for new user groups such as elderly people, children and people with disabilities. Car sharing will also become more attractive.”

As the graphic shows, while in 2015 humans had total control in more than four out of five vehicles in Switzerland, computer systems are already taking on more of the workload. By 2040, only one in ten drivers will have to keep their eyes on the road.

The report acknowledged, however, that “due to the many new and attractive possibilities” the general level of mobility will increase, and if priority is given to convenience and providing more options for individuals, the situation could get worse: “increased space requirements, decreasing energy efficiency, additional energy consumption and a greater impact on the environment”.

This could be avoided, it explained, if the new possibilities are intelligently combined with other aspects of the digital world and if people accept car sharing much more .

The Federal Roads Office added that the effects on almost all sectors of the job market would also be considerable, in particular drivers of lorries, buses and taxis.

Switzerland’s 3,500 driving instructors are also concerned, and insurers – and lawyers – will be working out who is liable in the event of an accident: the owner/passenger, software company or car manufacturer?

Pros and cons

A study published last yearExternal link by the Boston Consulting Group in association with the Swiss-based World Economic Forum asked more than 5,500 people in ten countries for their views on SDVs.

In all, 58% said they would take a ride in a fully automated car and 69% said they would get into a partly automated car.

The main reasons given for using an SDV were “drops me off, finds a parking spot and parks on its own” (43%) and “allows me to multitask and be productive while travelling” (40%).

The two main concerns were “I do not feel safe if the car is driving itself” (50%) and “I want to be in control at all times” (45%).

What do you think? Would you get into a self-driving car?

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