The U.S. Gives Self-Driving Cars the Green Light

What does it all mean for the future of “normal” cars?

If you look into the plans of auto manufacturers, you’ll find that most of them will have driverless cars on the market within two to four years. Recently the U.S. government made it clear it thinks self-driving cars will make the roads safer and more efficient.



Certainly, with nearly 40,000 deaths on the road last year, any increase in safety will be welcomed. The Department of Transportation released its first guidelines designed to outline safety expectations and rules for driverless vehicles.

Although no one really knows how quickly the public will accept buying self-driving cars, it could be a boom time for auto dealers. In addition to a promise of more safety, one of the great selling points of driverless cars is the prospect of entertainment.

After an adjustment period, the public should embrace the idea that it no longer has to deal with the frustration of bumper-to-bumper traffic, or slow- or not-moving traffic flow. It will be possible to tell the car where you want to go, then sit back and watch a movie, your favorite television show, or simply surf the web or send emails.

Social media should be very popular during travel times, and hopefully texting while driving will disappear. So might drunk driving and accidents caused by falling asleep at the wheel, as well as driver misbehavior or errors like running a stop sign.

If self-driving cars really are much safer, how long will it be before you won’t be allowed to drive your own car? If most or all of the remaining accidents are caused by people actually driving, why would people continue to be allowed to drive?

Will drunk driving disappear as an infraction and be replaced by a penalty for human driving? Will today’s non-self-driving cars be banned from the road? Imagine the owner of a 1965 Corvette banned from actually driving on the road. Fast and Furious movies will be downright boring if everyone is in a driverless car that only goes the speed limit and drives safely and correctly.

What will it be like when you go to the theater and your car drops you at the front, then goes to find its own parking spot? Will you use your smartphone to tell the car to pick you up after the movie?

If driverless cars catch on quickly, will everyone want to drop their normal car and get a self-driving one? Who will want to buy the normal cars then? Will the bottom drop out of the used market? Will there be driverless motorcycles or semi trucks, or even boats, planes, and helicopters?

I want a driverless helicopter.

Brett Stevenson

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