It stills sounds like something out of a sci-fi novel but there's no denying it - whether you like them or not, self-driving cars are coming to your streets sooner than you realize.
By definition, a self-driving car is a vehicle with technology that allows it to automatically steer, accelerate, brake and avoid obstructions with minimal or no human driver interaction.
In fact, autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles are already on the road in some states, navigating the public highways while duking it out with "old-fashioned" human driven cars. And the eventual widespread adoption is moving along swiftly!
Self-driving cars = big business
A recent study by Business Insider Intelligence forecasts that by the year 2020, there will be nearly 10 million self-driving cars on the road.
Intel, the computer chip company that's investing heavily in autonomous car technology, is even predicting that the self-driving industry will generate a $7 trillion revenue stream by 2050. Granted, 2050 is still ways off but this shows how the car tech industry is counting on self-driving cars to take over the streets in the near future.
The road to autonomy
Why the self-driving car push? Well, for one, it can reduce operating expenses for businesses that rely on transport. We know, like with any other job that can be replaced with automation, it's not great news for truck, bus and taxi cab drivers who will see their job opportunities dwindle down as self-driving vehicles take over their duties.
On the flip side, having mostly networked, autonomous cars on the street can make the roads safer and travel more efficient. Research data even show that the number of traffic accidents will be reduced by over 90 percent when self-driving cars finally take over.
Road bumps ahead
However, even with the substantial efforts to fast-track the widespread adoption of the self-driving cars, there are still roadblocks that need to be hurdled.
One is the cost of the technology itself, and the other, and maybe of equal importance, are the various U.S. state regulations that can impede the scale of deployment of self-driving cars.
While a number of states have spearheaded the autonomous car movement by allowing tests on actual streets, many have yet to make any legislative action regarding self-driving cars.
State of the self-driving cars across the U.S.
If you're wondering when will you see a self-driving car, even a supervised one, on your neighborhood streets, Automotive News created this map of the U.S. showing the state of self-driving legislation across the country.
States that already allow self-driving car tests on the road:
These states are already passing licensing and testing legislation paving the way for self-driving cars:
- New York
These states are preparing for self-driving cars by designating dedicated testing sites:
- North Carolina
As you can see, there are still many states (signified by blue on the map) that are yet to make any moves regarding autonomous cars.
We expect this map to change soon, as the self-driving bandwagon gains more widespread support with more politicians and regulators jumping in.
What do you think? Is your state a part of the upcoming autonomous car revolution yet?