Robotics expert says autonomous cars will make driving licenses obsolete 10-15 years from now

Article by Christian A., on January 19, 2017

As if seeing the future more than a decade from now, one of the top scientists in the world of robotics and automations is predicting that children born today won’t need to apply for a driving license in the next 10 to 15 years. Why did he say that?

The person who made that prediction is Henrik Christensen, and he is not your ordinary tech guy. He is already a famous Danish roboticist and is serving as Professor of Computer Science in the University of California. His credentials have prompted the University of California to tap his services in July 2016 to run UC San Diego’s Contextual Robotics Institute. Next month, he will be gathering 30 of the world’s top scientists at the University of California for a discussion of the toughest challenges in robotics and automation -- including making autonomous cars safe on the road.

Christensen was recently interviewed by The San Diego Union-Tribune about what he thinks about the near future. According to Christensen, he expects all vehicles in the next 10 to 15 years to be fully automated. This means that the children of today won’t need to drive anymore thanks to these autonomous vehicles, rendering getting a driving license moot and academic. He based his predictions on the promises and statements made by major global carmakers – like GM, Ford and Daimler -- that they would be able to introduce driverless cars into the road within the next five years.

Going by Christensen’s scenario, fully autonomous vehicles would be a common thing on the road in the future, sending those with steering wheels to the scrap yard as they don’t have a place anymore on the road. Christensen predicts that people in the future would rather commute than drive if doing so makes them more productive. He also noted that self-driving cars would allow the volume of traffic to be doubled without improving the current infrastructure.

He also added that fewer garages will be needed in the future that he is painting. Christensen said that this because in the future, car ownership will become an obsolete idea, and instead the car as a service will be the new road battle-cry. The only garages that will be needed are those by the operators of the car service.

However, not everyone agrees with Christensen. Take Toyota, Lamborghini and Audi for example. While these carmakers see the future loaded with autonomous cars, they are also expecting quite a number of motorists to prefer technology-assisted drivable vehicles simply because these people love driving. Moreover, while autonomous cars could become a long-term trend in large cities, adoption of this technology in lesser developed places in globe could take decades.

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