Will Driverless Cars Still Require Number Plates?

Driverless cars or Autonomous Vehicles (AVs) have hit the headlines in recent times and although the idea is still very much in its infancy, it is interesting enough to generate debate among stakeholders. One of the most common assumptions about driverless cars is that people will buy them. Most experts however argue over this, stating that they are most likely to be shared taxis that can be automatically summoned when you need them.

If the proposed scenario of a shared driverless car proves to be true and the autonomous vehicle technology is widely adopted, the question of vehicle ownership arises. Technological and economic constraints are the main reason why most believe the driverless car can only be shared and not owned. But even if the car is shared, someone will have to own it in the first place.

“Imagine a situation in the near future where driverless cars have completely replaced the vehicles we have today. Who will own the car and what identifier will we use?” Tom from the ShowPlates Factory exclaimed when asked to comment.

The Role of Number Plates

Number plates whether custom or regular are primarily meant to identify the car. Yet the information on the number plates will link to information about the owner of the car. If no one owns the car, then the information on the number plates can’t link to any one individual.

The likelihood is that car leasing companies like Uber and Lyft will own driverless cars since the technology fits perfectly into their business models. Individuals will likely not own driverless cars so the idea of licensing and registration agencies that we have today will have to change to accommodate the new scheme of things.

As driverless cars eventually replace drivers, registration agencies will have to modify their services to serve only the handful of companies that will own the autonomous vehicles. There will likely be a short list of available number plates for the driverless cars since they all have few owners.

Custom Number Plates May Become the Norm

It is also a likely scenario that these driverless cars will adopt custom number plates like never before. The reason for this will be simply branding although easy identification will also factor in. An Uber autonomous vehicle will probably be identified by the name Uber in its number plate. But the number plates will go beyond identifying the vehicle’s owner since they will carry the brand name and by extension the reputation of the company.

It therefore goes to show, that the role of number plates as a vehicle’s identifier will remain. They will be used to tell the customer who owns the vehicle they are sharing or leasing. But they will also transform into brand identifiers that companies will use to advertise their driverless cars.

Most of the number plates in the future will be custom ones. It only makes sense since most cars will be owned by a single entity and not an individual. Whether they will hold any legal position is a matter to be addressed when the first autonomous vehicles hit the streets.