The utopian vision of autonomous cars and a world where traffic issues are null is a generation away, according to a new white paper from HERE and SBD research, which also asserts that advancement in autonomous vehicles will be gridlocked without the cooperation of all stakeholders.

Relaxing and productive commutes with self-driving vehicles freely moving us around in safety and comfort will one day be the case, but introducing autonomy to the world is an iterative process that relies on sharing and connecting all aspects of the development — from data and systems to technical innovations and end users.

We spoke with co-authors of the white paper, Carrie Cox, Senior Product Marketing Manager, HERE and Andrew Hart, Director at SBD, to get an overview of the insights they shared.

Carrie points out a common misconception in the industry: that self-driving cars will make the traffic we experience today obsolete. While in the long term we should expect to see fewer accidents and, ultimately, fewer vehicles on the road, it will take some time before autonomous vehicles fully transform the way we travel.


“We believe traffic will be reduced long term — that is, a generation from now — but the traffic situation will get worse during the complex deployment process which must come first,” she says. “This is what we explored in the paper.”

For one, the sheer number of cars in the near term would increase traffic as both driverless and traditional vehicles share the road. Andrew says, “And then there’s the element of driver reaction — just getting used to having self-driving cars next to you on the same highway could cause delays.”