Autonomous cars without steering wheels unlikely before 2045

Fully autonomous cars with no steering wheels are unlikely to be a regular feature on Europe’s roads before 2045, according to the region’s Commissioner for Transport.

Speaking at the FT Future of the Car Summit, EU Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc said that while automated cars equipped with steering wheels are likely to be mixed with regular cars by 2030, it could take more than another decade before fully autonomous transport becomes widespread.

Everything you need to know about autonomous cars

“The goal by 2030 is that we’ll be able to introduce mixed traffic, with automated and classic traffic. Automated means there’s still a steering wheel and you can take control,” said Bulc. “Probably it will take 10 or 15 years more to have autonomous mobility, which means no steering wheel. We see this happening now in campuses, very controlled streets in the cities, airports etc. And little by little this will become more acceptable.”

Bulc said that the EU hopes to avoid the accidents in self-driving tests in the United States that have attracted media attention worldwide. “It’s hard to talk about acceptance for fatalities,” she said. “But we’ve been extremely tolerant in the past. I believe with a coordinated and controlled approach, we’re able to minimise this to zero. I’m not in favour of just throwing new technology into the social environment and seeing what is happening.

“We’re going to introduce, little by little, the green and autonomous technology and monitor closely what needs to be done to ensure full acceptance in the future.

“Right now we need to think of the elderly, disabled, kids; their behaviours are much more unpredictable. That’s why I’m in favour of step by step testing and then slowing increasing the impact of autonomous vehicles.”

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