The technology behind self-driving cars is intriguing as much as it is life-saving. If successful and safe, a self-driving car can eliminate drunk driving and distracted driving by replacing a human driver – who is vulnerable to making bad decisions, human error and becoming distracted – with a computer that does not make these kinds of mistakes.
Already, many people rely on drivers to transport themselves and their families around during the day. Be it an elderly person, a business person, a mother or a disabled person, these individuals know how convenient and helpful having a driver is. Sometimes these individuals employ full-time drivers and other times they just call up a taxi or limo at the spur of the moment when needed. The problem is, the cost of a private driver or taxi driver is exorbitant, so its convenience is not accessible to everyone.
The rise of self-driving cars, however, means that the additional component of another person to pilot the car – or their car – is needed for those who want to relieve themselves of their driving responsibilities. Furthermore, because it is a computer, these self-driving cars will be programmed to follow the law, be highly attentive and keep their occupants safe – and when the self-driving car keeps its occupants safe, it will also keep other drivers on the road safe.
According to IHS Automotive, self-driving cars will skyrocket in popularity over the next several decades. By 2035, they project that 21 million autonomously driving cars will have been manufactured and purchased around the world, with approximately 600,000 being sold annually. Most of the growth in sales is projected to happen between 2025 and 2035.
Provided the technology can be made as safe and sound as manufacturers and technologists believe, these cars will truly revolutionize the level of traffic safety humans are capable of achieving. It may also revolutionize motor vehicle accident personal injury laws as new questions arise about who is liable for self-driving car accidents. Is it the car maker, the software company, the car owner or another party?