2018 transportation trends

U.S. News has predictions for transportation technology in 2018. In a nutshell, sales of electric vehicles will take off, but people will also keep buying inefficient gas vehicles because is relatively cheap right now.

According to this article, the commercial rollout of autonomous vehicles has suffered some setbacks, and 2018 might not be the big widespread adoption year.

Automated vehicle developers will push back their timelines for deployment, for good reason. Automated vehicles are coming, but the real question is when. Just over a year ago, tech magnate Elon Musk said he “felt pretty good” about a Tesla driving completely autonomously from Los Angeles to New York without any human interaction by the end of 2017. But at a recent conference, he pushed that date back another two years. Chevy delayed the debut of Super Cruise, and driverless shuttles have yet to move beyond pilot phases.

Society will greatly benefit from automated vehicle safety improvements. However, it’s a good thing that automated technologies are delayed. Automakers are finding it more difficult to design the system than they originally expected. Instead of putting a product on the road that is unsafe, they are responsibly taking the time they need to make sure the system is ready for the public. Patience will pay off in the long run.

I wonder if it is really a setback in technology, or a matter of a few high profile accidents getting a lot of media attention. Markets and regulatory agencies are going to respond to perception, no matter how clearly the statistics show that imperfect computer-controlled vehicles are a huge advance over human controlled vehicles. Insurance companies are somewhat immune to emotion and responsive to hard numbers though, so at some point when there are safer options available they may just jack rates up on people who don’t take those options. It probably won’t pay to be a late adopter.

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