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March 2022

Artificial intelligence and the future of mobility, how the market will change

Simonluca Pini Contributing Editor Sole 24 Ore

Autonomous driving and connected cars could generate an economic growth of as much as €150 billion over five years

Not just electrification. The automotive market is set to change dramatically in the next few years, and not solely because of the shift to zero-emission engines. If the transition to all-electric mobility is still being questioned by many, connectivity and the exponential growth of driving assistance systems are an absolute fact. All this, however, without imagining short-term scenarios where cars are able to move autonomously. In fact, despite widespread announcements of the imminent arrival of self-driving vehicles just a few years ago, the situation is progressing gradually. In our everyday reality, though, vehicles must have a driver who remains vigilant, with his hands on the wheel at all times, ready to handle potentially dangerous situations. Manufacturers and hi-tech companies are working on cars capable of moving autonomously, but above all capable of “reading” and adapting to the surrounding environment made up of unconnected vehicles and infrastructures. Assuming the fundamental role played by Governments in terms of investments and regulations, the growth of autonomous driving will bring a long list of social benefits starting with the reduction of accidents and road death tolls. However, despite a design made to minimize the possibility of being in dangerous situations, technology will have to be endowed with a moral decision-making power in case of an unavoidable accident. But how? An answer comes from Guido Calabresi (Professor Emeritus of Law at Yale University) who, together with Enrico Al Mureden (Professor of Civil Law and Product Safety, Product Liability and Automotive at the University of Bologna) wrote the book "Autonomous driving: new mobility rules among ethics, law and project development"; "whoever designs autonomous cars will have to deal with this difficult and tragic 'choice', programming the car to make drastic choices between running over two children or an elderly person". Another interesting aspect deals with responsibility which "for the last 80 years has fallen upon the driver or the owner - as mentioned by Al Mureden - "but in the future could shift to the manufacturer".
How much is the connected car market worth?
According to research published in 2021 by the Smart and Connected Car Observatory of the School of Management of the Polytechnic University of Milan, the number of connected vehicles in Italy amount to around 16.7 million, or 40% of all cars in circulation. At present the market is worth 1.2 billion euro and despite the setback dictated by the pandemic, the trend is growing. In the future, however, the situation will change radically. As mentioned by Prof. Al Mureden, according to estimates developed within the European Union, the acceleration of the transition towards automated driving and the emergence of driverless cars would constitute a lever capable of generating an economic potential with significant orders of magnitude. In this regard, the document "A common EU approach to liability rules and insurance for connected and autonomous vehicles. European Added Value Assessment: Accompanying the European Parliament's legislative own-initiative report", published in 2018, estimates the possible economic growth at 148 billion euro over a period of five years.

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