Auto fatalities happen about every 94 million miles. By comparison, Tesla reports that the first fatality while its Autopilot was engaged happened after 134 million miles, suggesting that even in our early self-driving days, we already have a better chance of arriving at our destination with “auto piloted” cars. With the rapid application of creative coding to driving data logs, cameras and detectors, and vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications, we can expect dramatic further reductions in our accident-anxiety and our accidents.
Confidence in this prediction is supported by the observation that auto insurance companies are starting to think about how to navigate the reduced premium revenues that will result from dramatic drops in accident rates and how to shift their focus from driver liability to product liability. There may be ongoing discussions about philosophical ethics, but if autonomous vehicles can double, quadruple, or decuple our chances of getting to our destination in one piece while making the trip substantially more satisfying, I think these attractions will swamp any philosophical hesitations.
And I think roadways that only allow autonomous operations will quickly follow as self-driving vehicles reach a meaningful measure of total vehicles.