It wasn’t long ago that the idea of a self-driving car was considered science fiction to the general public. Even as companies like Google were already road-testing their own prototype models, many people failed to realize that this technology was already on the horizon. Indeed, many modern consumer vehicles are already equipped with self-driving features such as automatic lane correction or braking assistance. The question is: how far are we from a day when self-driving cars are not only a reality, but also the norm?
If there’s one thing you can trust about consumer technology, it’s that it tends to spread like wildfire. Business Insider Intelligence recently published a study that suggests that cars with some self-driving functionality will see a 134 percent rise on the road over the five-year period from 2015 to 2020, resulting in some 10 million automobiles featuring the technology by decade’s end.
In fact, Google’s Self-Driving Car Project notes that it has already logged over one million driverless miles in live conditions. The cars rely on complex sensors and sophisticated software to detect objects, including people, bicyclists, and, of course, other vehicles. There is still much debate as to when fully-automated cars will be available for widespread use, but at present, it appears that fully-autonomous vehicles will make their official debut in 2019.
What It Means for You
It’s likely that, as with electric and hybrid options, certain benefits and tax credits might be offered to help bolster public interest. What the proliferation of autonomous cars really means for drivers is varied:
- According to Science Alert, a report has analyzed that driverless cars will be safer, resulting in fewer accidents, injuries and reducing fatalities by up to 90%, saving almost 300,000 lives each decade in the US.
- Due to insurance and regulatory concerns, true driverless cars are further off into the future than user-operated vehicles that offer lesser degrees of automated features and functionality.
- Initial costs will likely be a factor in fully self-driven cars not becoming an immediate institution, but, drawing the parallel to electrics and hybrids once again, the technology is expected to become very commonplace within a period of years after its debut.
Whether you would ever consider owning or using an autonomous vehicle for yourself, it’s hard to argue that this is truly an interesting time for drivers and auto manufacturers alike. Expect to hear more in the news about these types of innovations in the months and years to come.