There is no true consensus about when self-driving cars will hit showroom floors, but they are definitely on the horizon. According to Nissan, these vehicles will be available no sooner than 2020. Jeff Klei, president of a leading German auto parts manufacturer, believes that 2025 may be the year. Ron Medford, Google’s director of safety for self-driving cars, has set no timetable for the public release of its automated vehicle either. However, a test car from Google has already logged around 500,000 miles in California.
There will be many benefits to self-driving cars. For instance, highways and fuel will be used more efficiently, and accidents caused by those who are overly fatigued or drunk may be eliminated. The argument against this automation is that a human’s judgment is still better than a computer.
The only thing that may put a damper on self-driving cars is the government. It appears that lawmakers may be applying the brakes on progress. During a recent hearing held in November 2013, the House Transportation Subcommittee in Highways and Transit expressed awe and concern about a driverless vehicle. Few representatives questioned the possible benefits that these vehicles may bring, yet many had a hard time picturing these cars in busy traffic. Also, there were some worries that these sophisticated cars would put many people out of work. However, a GM representative suggested that trained repairmen would be essential and would increase the number of people needed in the industry. For now, stricter guidelines have been put into place for testing, licensing and regulation. GM has lobbied lawmakers to let automakers experiment and develop features that will add true value to the road.
It appears that technology will rule, and self-driving vehicles will be released within the next decade. Slowly, cars are seeing a transition between no automation and slight automation. Down the line, these levels will be heightened, and a completely self-driving car will be made available to the public.
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