As we move further into the fully autonomous car era, we also need to understand the distinction between “user-operated” and “completely driverless” vehicles. Because of regulatory and insurance issues, user-operated fully autonomous cars will come to market within the next five years, while complete autonomous driverless autos will remain further off.
Even though both Google and Tesla have predicted that fully-autonomous cars, the kind that Elon Musk describes as “true autonomous driving where you could literally get in the car, go to sleep, and wake up at your destination,” will be available to the public by 2020, that’s not the full story.
First generation vehicles like these will come with a variety of regulator issues and technical problems few can anticipate. But as with all early stage technologies, each of these problems will be dealt with as they arise.
In addition, being available and being commonplace are also many years apart.
While we are entering a game-changing transition period accompanied with a never-ending stream of industry hype, most of the changes listed below will happen after 2030.
Somewhere in the 2030-2035 timeframe we’ll begin to see highways designated as “driverless only,” allowing vehicles that can be switched into driverless mode.
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