For years, the world has been entranced with the concept of a car that can drive itself. An R&D Magazine article tells us that Technology companies and automotive manufacturers have invested more than $80 billion in the underlying technologies and acquisitions pertaining to autonomous vehicles. If perfected, autonomous vehicles could theoretically increase productivity and work-life balance at least 52 minutes per day which is the average time that it takes U.S. drivers to commute back and forth to work every day.
Many experts predict the autonomous cars will be widely accepted and deployed across the country by 2020. A 2017 survey by AAA of over 1,000 adult drivers in the U.S. showed that 63% of Americans are still afraid of riding in a self-driving vehicle. This is progress considering that number was at 78% the year prior. Overall, it men are more inclined to take a ride in a driverless car, with 52% being afraid of self-driving cars compared to 73% of women sharing the same fearful feelings.
Many companies have made headlines in advertising their autonomous car technologies, but the five front-runners in the technology development are General Motors, Waymo, Ford, Daimler-Bosch, and Volkswagen. Piggybacking on this report, Waymo announced last November that it was removing test drivers from the driver's seats of its Chrysler Pacificas operating in their massive Phoenix, Arizona testing facility. This move is unprecedented as it takes the industry one step closer to rolling out autonomous vehicles to the masses.
Unfortunately, the development of these autonomous vehicles is still marred with a ton of red tape as legal and political overseers are unsure how to build regulations and laws surrounding these new cars. What will happen when you get in an accident, but are in a car where nobody was driving? Or even more abstract: who is responsible for a ticket when there are no passengers in the car that violates a traffic law and/or gets in an accident? These are the pressing matters that are currently being deliberated on up at Capitol Hill, courthouses, and police stations around the countries. With time, we will likely see more legislation introduced to hammer down the legal precedent for how public servants can address matters pertaining to autonomous vehicle legalities.
Interested in learning more about Autonomous Cars of the future? Read this article about the car companies that are developing autonomous technology from CES 2018.