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Self-Driving Cars: How Long Until They’re On the Road?

You are currently viewing Self-Driving Cars: How Long Until They’re On the Road?
How long until the driver's seat stays empty?
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With electric vehicles becoming more widespread, many people are looking beyond them to the next big car tech innovation. The most common place that people go when they think of that is to self-driving cars. Once confined to science fiction, this technology is looking like an increasingly realistic prospect. But just how far off are fully autonomous vehicles? And will there come a time when it’s illegal to drive your car yourself?

How far off are fully self-driving cars?

Despite Tesla’s claims of having full self-driving in their latest vehicles, no automaker currently offers this feature. That’s partially because the technology is not quite there yet, as you can see by the recent software recall that Tesla issued. Self-driving software needs to meet a very high threshold of reliability and safety for adoption.

Just how high that threshold needs to be is an interesting question. After all, the other thing holding self-driving car technology back is the law. Currently, no state or federal body has determined that this technology is legal on its roads. Legislators will therefore have to determine what level of risk to people is acceptable for them to allow autonomous vehicles. Do these vehicles just have to be as safe as human drivers? Will they need to meet higher standards for safety? No one knows exactly where to draw the line.

As of now, most estimates peg the arrival of fully self-driving cars as occurring sometime beyond the year 2030. The challenges of not only convincing legislators but also the public that these vehicles are safe will take significant work. Once the technology gets here, though, it’s likely that people will adopt it quickly. The idea of taking a nap on the way home from work is just too good to pass up.

How long until human drivers are illegal?

This is another interesting question when it comes to autonomous vehicles. Eventually, the technology will get so good that these vehicles will be far safer than human-driven ones. As a result, there may come a time when the law outlaws human drivers completely. If you’re a lawmaker, would you rather let people have the freedom of driving or dramatically reduce the incidence of crashes? The choice seems clear once self-driving technology becomes good enough.

However, this is a long way into the future. Even optimistic estimates for the autonomous vehicle community project this future to be more than 25 years off. If you like driving yourself, don’t worry. You’ll be able to drive your car, van, truck, or other vehicle yourself for a long time.

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