Bosch says driver assistance systems (DAS) could see European Union (EU) targets to halve traffic accidents met by 2020.

The United Nations estimates every year 1.3m people worldwide are killed in road accidents and in 90% of cases, driver error is involved, but increased DAS and automation may see these numbers drastically reduced.

“[There is a] 15% reduction of traffic accidents with casualties, but in emerging countries, there is the opposite,” Bosch board member, Dirk Hoheisel, told the supplier’s International Automotive Press Briefing at its proving ground in Germany last week.

“The EU has promised by 2020, traffic accidents should be halved and in order to achieve this, we need DAS. Increased automation can address 37% of accidents.

“We don’t think there will be a big bang, that we will do autonomous driving everywhere in the world. There are many more problems to be solved.

“There are studies… [if] all cars are connected then you get around 80% better traffic flow at crossings for example, if cars cooperate without human interference.

“Autonomous driving really makes sense, but there will be a button where you can switch it off as well.”

Hoheisel predicted “most of the key technical challenges” which automated driving presents will have been solved by the end of the decade, although the legal framework will have to keep pace with technological developments.

Currently, there is legal constraint in the form of the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic, which says drivers must retain control of their vehicles at all times.

However, Bosch notes there are “signs of impending changes to the regulations that bind Germany and many other countries,” with one scenario envisaging allowing automated driving as long as the driver can override or disable it at any time.

“We are optimistic policymakers and associations will soon take steps in the right direction,” added Hoheisel.