Q: How will the technological advances surrounding autonomous vehicles influence our day-to-day world—the automobile/trucking industries, the supply chain, traffic laws, our very infrastructure? Will roadways be safer?
A: While level 5 autonomy is a long way off, what is being done in automotive companies, and I have first-hand knowledge, is the development of more sophisticated driver assistance features. Long-haul trucks will probably be first in having a truck drive a long distance in a straight line without driver interference. But there will still be a driver so where is the savings? These systems are going to be hard to sell but there will be inroads. Governments and manufacturers are also collaborating, at various levels, to improve the overall driving experience. For example, there will be smart intersections where communications between the road and the cars will stagger the approach to the intersection allowing throughput increases. Based on current technology, I doubt the United States is going to be the leader in this development.
From a safety perspective, I think the result will be safer roadways but there is long way to go.