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Driving in 2029 – Where Will We Be?

04/20/2019 @ 5:56 am

While the year 2029 seems distant now, it will be upon us before too long. In that amount of time driving as we know it will change in quite a few ways. While it might not be how some movies, TV shows, and books have predicted, to think that personal transportation will stay just how it is today would be erroneous.

How we drive in cities will change fundamentally

Thanks to rapidly developing technologies, the automobile as we know it today will be quite the different machine by 2029. That will greatly impact where you’ll be as far as driving in 2029 on a number of key levels.


By 2029, vehicle electrification will no doubt be mainstream, making up a significant portion of new vehicles, if not the vast majority of them. While we all seem to know about electric cars right now, the fact is with technological shifts happening so rapidly at the moment, it’s almost impossible to predict just what new all-electric models will be like in 2029.

Many experts anticipate solid state batteries will rule the market by then. Not only do they offer greater energy density versus lithium ion batteries, they also theoretically cost far less to produce and don’t require rare materials. This means electric cars would become far cheaper and would go much further on a single charge. Those are two barriers hurting adoption rates right now.

No doubt, further advancements in electrification will help with the tech becoming mainstream. Quicker charging options will be developed, possibly even inductive charging where cars don’t need to be plugged in to replenish their batteries.

Some believe hydrogen fuel cell cars will be growing significantly in popularity by 2029. They run using electric motors, which are powered by the reaction of oxygen and hydrogen mixing in the fuel cells. Since the tech is very much in the early stages now, it’s difficult to see exactly where it’s going at this point.

One thing is for sure: with so many electrified vehicles on the road, fuel stations are either going to start offering car chargers or they will start closing in large numbers. Most likely, many electric vehicles will charge rapidly, so don’t expect to watch a movie or have a nice sit-down meal while waiting for the batteries to replenish. In fact, recharge times could rival that of filling your car up with fuel, if not surpass them. That level of convenience with using electric cars will be one of the factors which convince people to switch over in large numbers.

AI Drivers

Plenty of researchers believe that artificial intelligence will be able to outsmart humans by 2029. While that has plenty of implications for other parts of our lives, that also should mean that AI will be doing pretty much all the driving.

Let’s face it: driving in crowded cities has become more of a chore than something even a little enjoyable. Climbing into an autonomous car that just goes where you tell it definitely has an appeal.

There are some solid benefits to super-intelligent AI managing traffic flow in cities:

Fewer Accidents

Because AI doesn’t get distracted, engage in road rage, feel sleepy, or become susceptible to the weaknesses of human drivers, there will be significantly fewer accidents on the road.

With AI doing the driving, car accidents could become quite rare

This could lead to lower insurance rates, fewer road fatalities, and many other benefits.

Less Congestion

AI doesn’t engage in those activities which cause traffic to inexplicably slow to a crawl.

Plenty of studies show that random slowdowns in traffic are often the result of one car getting cut off, causing a chain reaction of braking and slowing which can spread for some distance. Rubbernecking, or watching something like a police officer on the side of the road, is another contributing factor to traffic slowdowns.

Since AI doesn’t get distracted by novel occurrences on the side of the road and it doesn’t cut off other drivers, traffic should flow more smoothly. That means everyone gets to where they’re going faster.

Greater Productivity

If you’re riding around in a self-driving car, that’s a great time to get more done. You could pull out your computer or phone and get some extra work done. Maybe you can read a book or do something else you would otherwise put off until later. Having an AI driver frees you up even more, although admittedly some people will squander the time and not do anything productive.

Improved Access

Right now, people with certain health restrictions can’t nor shouldn’t be driving. This can put a severe strain on their ability to get around. The elderly especially struggle with this reality, thanks to difficulties with vision and other health problems. AI drivers would expand access to cars, opening them up for many people who right now have to use other options. That means greater freedom for groups which right now have access to limited transportation, if much of anything at all.

AI could help certain groups have greater access to private transportation

Some experts have worried that the cost of autonomous driving services might be too great. Considering just how advanced the technology would need to be for the cars to really work, that’s a legitimate concern. In turn, that would mean higher fares to cover the cost, which would squeeze lower-income groups to the point that they might still be blocked from accessing the services.

Faster Speed Limits

Many experts believe that self-driving cars will be able to travel at faster speeds than human drivers do now, without the risk of accidents. AI doesn’t get distracted or make a sudden move out of boredom or rage, making it possible to raise the speed limits on highways and other areas without pedestrian traffic.

This development would be huge. With more cars moving through a given area at any time of day, congestion in cities would drop. That would mean getting to and from work in less time, something everyone can feel happy about. Exactly how fast cars will travel on these major thoroughfares is anyone’s guess, but it could be twice as fast as current speed limits.

Greater Safety

As you’ve probably already guessed from the faster speed limits, cars will be far safer than they are today. It’s possible that incidents of major accidents will be quite rare, as well as non-serious car accidents becoming almost obsolete.

We’ve seen the emerging abilities of driver assistance systems in helping to avoid accidents. Technologies like radar cruise control and automatic forward braking supplement human drivers’ capabilities to not hit cars in the same lane. There are systems for monitoring the presence of other cars in both blind spots, detecting approaching vehicles from the sides while backing up, and even some automatic reverse braking systems.

In the future, we can look forward to cars with even greater safety capabilities. They’ll be able to see what’s approaching on the road in zero visibility conditions, such as heavy snow or fog, thanks to sensors which don’t depend on camera technology. That also means they can detect pedestrians, animals, other cars, cyclists, etc. which are obscured from view by a building, wall, or other obstacles, preventing accidents which right now are pretty much unavoidable.

Advanced artificial intelligence will be able to identify all kinds of objects in real time. That means even in situations your car has never experienced before, it will be able to react quickly and appropriately, thanks to the AI’s ability to reason.

As a result, humans won’t have to stay vigilant while riding in cars. If you want, there will be the option to take a nap as the car pilots city streets or open highway. Even if there’s a difficulty, the car will be able to deal with the situation and get you to your destination, even taking an emergency detour if necessary, making it a truly driverless situation.

Public Vehicles

With the popularity of full self-driving cars, many consumers will question why they should even own a car. They’ll go one step further and ditch all the costs associated with car ownership, opting instead to use autonomous vehicle services.

Of course, this won’t be a solution for everyone. Those who live in large cities will gain a specific advantage with this technology, since paying for a spot to park can be quite expensive, and car ownership in a metropolis comes with other hassles. Being able to just hail an autonomous ride when needed will be far more practical, especially if such cars are roaming the streets on a regular basis.

Since these cars will be used by all kinds of people, they will become a form of public transportation, even if private companies own them. Unfortunately, that likely will mean the interiors won’t be very clean or exceptionally maintained. The more affordable services might have to combat issues like users leaving garbage in the cars, or how to clean up messes from anyone who vomits inside of them. To save on cost, you might be sharing a car with other strangers, which has the potential to be more awkward than riding on a bus or train.

Still, the flexibility of these autonomous ride-hailing services will be compelling enough to make them useful for a good portion of the population.

More Tolls

Thanks to electrification, taxes collected through the sale of fuel will be quite diminished if not obsolete. Fuel stations might still be around to service the few internal combustion engines still being used, but their numbers will be greatly diminished. That means in turn the tax revenue being collected through the sale of fuel will be virtually eliminated, depleting funds normally used for street maintenance.

While the government could raise taxes on the use of electricity as a way to maintain roads, a more equitable solution would be to charge tolls. After all, some people might use a fair amount of electricity to run different devices in their home, but they rarely access roads. Others might be on the road constantly, placing more wear and tear on it, but they aren’t home much to run other devices which consume electricity.

Through tolls, governments could charge people who are using specific stretches of road for maintenance costs. That would mean if you drive on a certain highway every day, you contribute more to its upkeep than someone who access it occasionally. Since roads which are used more heavily need more frequent maintenance, by capturing those funds and allocating them based on usage, Canadian roads might actually be in better shape than ever before.

Driving Yourself

While there will be attempts to outlaw driving by hand, you should still be able to take the wheel and steer a car yourself in at least most areas. There might be certain “smart” highways where only autonomous driving is allowed, since the cars all follow each other closely at high speeds, but otherwise you can still drive the old fashioned way.

Of course, all cars will come with the sensors necessary to at least help you drive with less risk. You’ll be able to select the level of assistance you want from the car, providing you with more or less control over how it maneuvers in different situations.

Some people will no doubt revel in driving cars with all assistive systems turned off. It will be regarded as a thing of pleasure and requiring great skill to execute properly, like riding a horse. Of course, this kind of activity won’t be enjoyed by the public at large, which will view driving by hand as reckless and dangerous.

Participation at racetracks will become a favorite pastime for certain members of society. It will be viewed as a way to blow off steam and hone a skill that might seem a little antiquated. People with older cars, particularly sports cars with internal combustion engines, will revel the chance to really push their ride on the track. Clubs formed for these kinds of activities will become quite numerous.


As you can see, driving won’t be something you’ll be compelled to do in 2029 like how you might be forced to do it today. Despite some people wanting to drive by hand still, the vast majority of traffic will be managed by cars using advanced artificial intelligence, making travel in cities and even out on the open road safer, faster, and ultimately more convenient. This means greater opportunities overall, despite some people being nostalgic for the past when everyone drove by hand.


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