As we can see from most movies, self-driving cars are the future. So, the next logical step is for us to buy them and…not drive them? Things are a little bit more complicated, as self-driving cars are still nowhere near release. So, the main question is – when will self-driving cars come to the market?
Also, when will they begin to sell and what will their price be? What performance will they offer? Equipment packages? Engine variations? So many question, but so few answers. Let’s begin our journey into the future!
Now, this is a tricky one. To define a specific release date (or even a year), we have to understand the technology behind self-driving cars. As the name implies, these are vehicles that depend on software and hardware to guide them through traffic and navigate them on the road. Although certain vehicles already have this technology (such as Google self-driving car and Tesla self-driving car), we are still far off from the finished commercial product. These cars depend on the technology behind them, so it has to be perfect, as the risks are huge. If a self-driving car fails, then it could potentially do a lot of damage, or even kill someone. So, when the technology gets here, we can see the first self-driving cars.
But, it is not that simple. These cars navigate in a mechanical environment, where computers do all the calculations. So, for a self-driving car to be safe, it depends on the calculations about its surrounding. But, if we enter the human factor (other people driving cars), we get an undefinable variable, which would cause self-driving cars accidents. This means that for these vehicles to enter the market and the road, they have to be safe. And to be safe, everyone must have a self-driving car, which for now, it is impossible.
We know that the first question is still unanswered – when will these cars arrive? But, to answer it correctly, we must look at all the factors that influence this decision. Although the technology is important, it is the government and the state laws that have to allow this to happen. Basically, these cars will be responsible in front of the law, and the law has to acknowledge them. This is tricky, because as we know, laws are always a step behind technology. For example, what will happen if a self-driving car kills someone? Who will be to blame?
It can’t be the driver, since he/she had no input whatsoever, except buying the car. And it can’t be the car, because a car cannot go to jail. So, will it be the manufacturer, or the chief designer? If this is the case, there are a lot of questions and hypothetical situations to take into account. So, the law, for now, cannot deal with self-driving cars.
Even if the US mandates a new law, specifically designed for self-driving cars, what about all the other countries? They can’t just copy paste everything, since there are different regulations in each country. And what happens when you go on a vacation in a different state, and can’t take your car with you?
And, we come to the final problem for our answer…
For us to define a release date, we have to know which companies will offer these vehicles. And man, this is a hard thing to answer as well. The most logical choice is Tesla, as they are doing incredible things with every new model. Tesla even has an auto-pilot feature, which can navigate the driver automatically on highways. However, this is controversial as well. For example, it is banned in Germany and some other European countries.
Mercedes and BMW are our next bet – will they enter the self-driving cars market? People have a lot of fate in German engineering, so it might be a logical choice. These companies also have the necessary funding and the factories to meet demand.
Finally, there is Google. A company that already has a self-driving car, so why not just bring it to the market? Google has the resources and the technology, and if the decision is made, we can see a Google self-driving car in the near future.
So, for our answer. Self-driving cars become more and more popular, but our estimation is that we will not see them on the streets for at least 10 more years. The technology still isn’t there, the laws aren’t there yet and the companies haven’t made meaningful progress. If you want to be driven by a self-driving car, wait until the year 2025.