Adam Jonas isn’t Nostradamus, but the Morgan Stanley analyst is predicting the road to complete vehicle autonomy will begin in 2026. What's more, he says the technology will eventually reach 100 percent market penetration two decades later.
If Jonas is to be believed, that means we'll all be passengers in our cars pretty soon.
In a report to analysts earlier this week, Jonas said his company sees "autonomous cars contributing $5.6 trillion in economic savings globally."
A chart from the report outlines the beginnings of an autonomous car "utopia," wherein autonomous cars will overcome liability and infrastructure issues, in 2026. Prior to 2026, Morgan Stanley predicts our cars will be able to be driven autonomously, but the driver will need to remain attentive in the case of an emergency, as the infrastructure for autonomous cars will not be fully developed.
— Conor Sen (@conorsen) February 25, 2014
But Jonas isn’t the only individual predicting a promising future for autonomous cars: Two research studies in August 2013 revealed similar predictions.
Navigant Research, a market research firm, wrote that “by 2035, sales of autonomous vehicles will reach 95.4 million annually, representing 75% of all light-duty vehicle sales.” Meanwhile, the research firm ABI Research believes half of all new cars will be autonomous by 2032.
But not everyone sees complete vehicle autonomy entering the marketplace as quickly.
In December, independent research organization Victoria Transport Policy Institute released a report that outlined the state of vehicle autonomy in the future, noting:
The analysis indicates that some benefits, such as independent mobility for affluent non-drivers, may begin in the 2020s or 2030s, but most impacts, including reduced traffic and parking congestion (and therefore road and parking facility supply), independent mobility for low-income people (and therefore reduced need to subsidize public transport), increased safety, energy conservation and pollution reductions, will only be significant when autonomous vehicles become common and affordable, probably in the 2040s through 2060s, and some benefits may require prohibiting human-driven vehicles on certain roadways, which could take even longer.
Then again, autonomous cars may come even earlier than any of these studies suggest; Nissan believes it will have an autonomous car on sale in 2020.
Whatever year autonomous cars finally come to market, it seems very likely we'll be able to let our cars do our driving in the very near future.