Self-Driving Cars are closer to Your Driveway than You Think

Self-driving (or semi-autonomous) cars are even closer to your driveway than you might think. Major automakers, Google, and even a computer supply company are rushing to bring this technology to your street.

Audi's piloted RS7 leaves the Google Car in the dust at speeds up to 190 miles per hour.

Audi’s piloted RS7 leaves the Google Car in the dust at speeds up to 190 miles per hour.

California’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has issued Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, and Google permits to operate self-driving cars on the Golden State’s roads, Seeking Alpha reported. The permits require that the vehicles have a backup human driver for now.

The public likes the idea of vehicles that drive themselves, The Detroit Free Press reported. The newspaper cited a Boston Consulting Group poll that found 55% of auto buyers would be likely to purchase a partially autonomous vehicle, such as some of Mercedes’ current S class.

The same poll discovered that 44% of drivers would like to have a car that does all the driving. An even more intriguing number for carmakers and computer enterprise system supplier Arrow Electronics (maker of the SAM self-driving technology) is that 20% of potential auto buyers would pay $4,000 extra for self-driving features.

Self-Driving Car Reaches Speeds of 190 miles per hour

Automakers are definitely paying attention to the public. Audi, part of Volkswagen, held a race between a self-driving car and a car with a driver at a track in Germany. The vehicles reached speeds of up to 190 miles per hour; almost as fast as a NASCAR race car, and the autonomous RS7 (nicknamed Bobby) won.

It is also easy to see why automakers are so interested in this technology; the market for autonomous vehicles could reach $87 billion by 2030, the Lux Research firm reported. The public seems to want a car that drives itself, or at least takes some of the work and stress out of driving.

Another reason why people are intrigued by self-driving vehicles is that they could reduce the potential of accidents and the possible dangers of driving. One reason why driving is so stressful these days is the fear of bad driving and high speeds.

Obviously, the market for self-driving vehicles extends far behind minivans and luxury sedans. Delivery trucks, police cars, fire trucks, taxi cabs, transit buses, school buses, ambulances, rental cars, car sharing vehicles, semi-tractors, bulldozers, and farm tractors are among just of the vehicles that could benefit from self-driving technology.

Audi's self-driving RS7 makes the Google Car look like a golf cart. It regularly achieves speeds of 190 MPH.

Another self-driving Audi being tested by Stanford University in California’s Silicon Valley.

Some examples of this technology could include a school bus that enables a driver to get up and punish a misbehaving kid, a self-driving paddy wagon that prowls the streets of the city on Saturday night picking up drunks from police officers on foot patrol, a rental car that drives back to the rental office after the renter is done with it, or a delivery van that cruises the neighborhood while the delivery person is taking packages to your doorstep. Self-driving farm tractors and bulldozers might also become a common sight someday.

Vehicles that drive themselves could become a common sight on our streets in just a few years. One has to wonder how the public will react to them.