Driverless cars wouldn?t need speed limits
Ever think about barreling down Interstate 75 at 150 mph and getting to and from work in half the time?
One Wall Street automotive analyst thinks that scenario could play out in a future with fully autonomous cars.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch analyst John Murphy said Wednesday at an Automotive Press Association luncheon in Detroit that completely driverless vehicles wouldn't need speed limits. That would mean quicker commutes to and from work, and more personal time for errands or other activities.
"The industry ... remembers its key function is to get people from A to B quickly. ... If you can get me from A to B at twice the speed or half the time, I'm going to pay you a lot of money for that," Murphy said. "The only reason we have speed limits is for safety reasons. So if all of a sudden you have a fleet of vehicles that can't crash into each other or crash into other objects, why can't you drive 150 mph? There's no rational reason."
Murphy admitted it's a pie-in-the-sky scenario that would involve convincing regulators to change speed limit laws, not to mention actually getting fully autonomous vehicles on the road in bulk, which could take decades. But automakers are already introducing semi-autonomous safety features like lane-keeping assist and automatic emergency braking that are making vehicles safer and could lead to smoother commutes.
"You could potentially really change the industry," Murphy said.
Increasing the speed of travel would give back hours a week that people could use to run errands, spend time with their family or get more work done, Murphy said.
"That's real utility and that's a stimulus to the economy that is major," he said.