Google thinks that self-driving cars are inside a decade away, and the technology is so fluid that car owners could simply pay a few grand and have it installed in the time it takes to put in a new stereo. They've been talking to automakers in America's car capital, Detroit. And although Google is the most prominent company pushing the driverless technology (they started getting patents back in December), we've seen that they're not the only ones interested in what could be the future of transportation.
The benefits of this technology are fairly obvious. Done right, driverless cars could severely decrease the amount of accidents that are caused by some sort of unpredictable action by the driver. Distracted drivers could be distracted without endangering the lives of others. Want to put on makeup, text, or work on that presentation on the way to work? Just plug in your destination, sit back, and let your car take you there. At its best, it would be like a chauffeur or taxi driver who doesn't ever try to make small talk.
Some automotive enthusiasts might not be too pleased to have the art of driving taken out of their hands, and there is always a concern about how fail-proof the technology would be when it first launches.
But according to a new study from J.D. Power and Associates, 20% of car-owners now say that they would 'definitely" or "probably" buy self-driving technology in their next vehicle. That's even after they learned about its estimated price tag of around $3,000. Before anyone brought up price, 37% said they were "definitely" or "probably" interested.
"Consumers are still learning about how autonomous driving technology could be used in their vehicles," said J.D. Power's Mike VanNieuwkuyk. "Many owners are skeptical about releasing control of their vehicle and would like to see the technology proved out before they adopt it."
Apparently, there is already a prime target for the self-driving car technology - young, city-dwelling males. The highest interest in what J.D Power calls "fully autonomous driving" came from males (25%) who are between 18-37 (30%), living in urban areas (30%). I wonder if that has anything to do with Google's Taco Bell demo we saw last month:
Like you would expect, people want the self-driving capabilities for "boring" driving times - like rush hour traffic, going to and from work, and running errands. Most respondents said that they would want the ability to turn it off and drive manually for pleasure, when the mood arose.
We're probably not that far away from driverless technology becoming a reality. With multiple companies testing it and some being in talks with automakers, then last hurdle is on the legislative level. States have to approve the self-driving cars for road use. Nevada took the first step last year by legalizing autonomous cars, and earlier this month we heard that the state is in the process of developing regulations for said cars.
The driverless movement has now spread to California, where a state Senator has proposed similar legislation. Other states like Hawaii, Florida, and Oklahoma are also currently considering self-driving car legislation.