Wish you could text while driving without risking life or limb? Google’s driverless cars, which first hit the streets in 2011, have now driven more than 300,000 miles and could be coming soon to a road near you. California, Nevada, and Florida already have laws in place allowing autonomous vehicles on the roads, and Hawaii, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and the District of Columbia have legislation on the table to make the technology street legal.
Though letting go of the wheel might seem counterintuitive to safety, Google has projected that autonomous cars can essentially eliminate accidents associated with human error. If these predictions are correct, tens of thousands of lives and billions of dollars could be saved annually. The potential social impact of driverless cars has spurred speculation that mass adoption of autonomous cars is on the horizon.
In fact, mass adoption seems the only way that the full benefits of a driverless car could be achieved. Though Google’s driverless cars have a blameless record so far, there have been two reported accidents: one involving a manual override of the prototype’s autonomous system, and one involving the driver of another car. While the allure of a personal, computerized chauffeur is more than enough reason for most drivers to make the switch, others may need a bit more convincing to give up the wheel.
Tell us what you think. Are driverless cars destined to revolutionize transportation? Or will they remain science fiction?
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