How soon will driverless cars become ubiquitous?

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  • In recent years, there has been a small but growing focus on the coming ubiquity of cars that can drive themselves with little to no human operation. Some companies have already rolled out test models and the expectation is that they could be approved for the open road in the relatively near future. But how soon will they become so popular that seeing a car with a human driver would be odd? This is a reality for which insurance agents may have to soon start preparing themselves and their clients alike.              

    The fact of the matter is that technology for driverless cars is advancing in such a way that it might one day be illegal for humans to operate a car on their own, according to a report from the Verge. However, that’s obviously a long way off, but according to Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk, it might reduce accident risk significantly.

    “I don’t think we have to worry about autonomous cars, because that’s sort of like a narrow form of AI,” Musk told NVidia co-founder and CEO Jen-Hsun Huang at the technology company’s annual developers conference earlier this week, according to the news site. “It would be like an elevator. They used to have elevator operators, and then we developed some simple circuitry to have elevators just automatically come to the floor that you’re at. The car is going to be just like that.”

    What’s the timeline?
    Right now, there are about 2 billion cars on the road, and automobile production tops 100 million new cars per year, the report said. With that cycle in mind, it’s probably going to be about two decades before the industry is rolling out nothing but driverless vehicles, and even longer before all regular cars – which haven’t really changed all that much, mechanically, in a century or so – are cycled off the roads altogether.

    The more homework insurance agents can do on this subject, and the more information they can pass along to their clients in the next few years, the better off they’re likely to be. That’s because people generally prefer to know as much as possible about their coverage, and why they pay what they do for it. That kind of improved relationship can, in turn, buoy future customer satisfaction ratings and even client retention rates for particularly diligent and helpful agents.