Autonomous motor vehicles, or self-driving cars, are closer to reality now than they have ever been. No longer a flight of fancy for lovers of science fiction stories, these computerized vehicles are now a real order of business for automobile manufacturers around the world.
In fact, some automobile manufacturers predict they will have self-driving models of their most popular vehicles on showroom floors by 2019. The consulting firm KPMG and the Center for Automotive Research in Michigan both reported this week that autonomous vehicles will likely be for sale at a dealership near you in less than a decade.
In the meantime, legislators in states from California to Florida are tackling the legal process required to make room for self-driving cars on the roadways in their states. Specifically, details need to be ironed out with police, automobile manufacturers and insurance companies, all of whom have a stake in letting cars drive themselves.
All of this is well and good for the major players involved in the decisions to build, market and legislate these new computerized vehicles, but for the people who will be owning them and relying on them to get them safely around town, the decision is yet to be made whether or not they will be acceptable.
When it comes to change, especially any change in their automobiles or driving habits, the American consumer has shown they are reluctant at best. The change from fossil fuel driven cars to electric or even hybrid vehicles has been very slow to come. This leads some experts to expect that sales of self-driving cars, however innovative and safe they might seem, will be slow.