We've had Roombas running around homes for several years now, sweeping and vacuuming floors. It's easy to think of the gizmos as early versions of Rosie, the Jetson's robot maid. But even George Jetson did his own driving (or flying, actually). But times are changing. Today, it appears self-driving cars are on the verge of joining our daily commutes.
Of course, there are kinks to be worked out. One of those is that driverless cars are a little too careful. If you've ever merged into traffic or had to exit a busy freeway, you know the value of your car's accelerator pedal. Driverless cars are designed to stay within the speed limit and not follow other vehicles too closely ... good luck with that.
Another issue for driverless cars is the potential for negative publicity and lawsuits. People fear the unfamiliar and look for reasons to resist change. We can expect every accident involving a self-driving automobile to make national news for the foreseeable future, even if their accident rates are a fraction of human-controlled vehicles. And cities that are beginning to allow self-driving cars currently require a human to sit behind the wheel, which sort of undermines the technology's appeal (yup, your goal of working on that last-minute proposal or reading the headlines on your tablet doing your commute just flew out of the window).
Driverless autos do have some powerful advocates lobbying the halls of power on their behalf, however. Ford, Google, Uber, Lyft and Volvo recently formed the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets. The group's goal is to get Washington D.C. regulators and policymakers to not put up too many roadblocks in front of the first true "auto"-mobiles.
Eventually, we expect progress to win out. We'll be able to let our cars drive us around while we Skype on the dashboard interface from a passenger seat. Perhaps our cars will drive us to a fully-automated fast-food restaurant, where a Sari-like voice will ask if we "want fries with that?" And overhead, Amazon drones will be flitting about with packages for people waiting at home. Cool, huh?
New technology is certainly making for an interesting future. As always, your friends at SynchroNet will be here helping keep up. It's our job!