Self-Driving Cars and Trucks: Introduction

For years, car and technology companies have been discussing self-driving (also known as autonomous or automated) cars and trucks. Promises of life-changing safety and ease have been hung on these vehicles. Now some of these promises are beginning to come to fruition, as cars with more and more autonomous features hit the market each year.

Though a truly driverless car is most likely still years away from being available to consumers, they are closer than many people think. Current estimates predict that by 2025 the world will see over 600,000 self-driving cars on the road, and by 2035 that number will jump to almost 21 million. Trials of self-driving car services have actually begun in some cities in the United States. And even though fully self-driving cars are not on the market yet, current technology allows vehicles to be more autonomous than ever before. Using intricate systems of cameras, lasers, radar, GPS, and interconnected communication between vehicles, some models of cars now offer features that can:

  • Assist in parking your vehicle;
  • Base and maintain speed related to the car traveling in front of your vehicle;
  • Brake to avoid accidents;
  • Maintain speed and center the vehicle within the lane you are traveling in;
  • Assist in avoiding collisions by checking blind spots before lane changes and alerting you if another car is in your way.

In addition to these features that are on the market today, new features are quickly being introduced. For example, companies are working towards cars that can drop you at the door of your destination, go park themselves, then come back and retrieve you when summoned by your smartphone. With each autonomous feature added, cars get closer and closer to being truly driverless.

While the benefits of driverless cars are numerous – think increased safety, availability of transportation to new segments of the population, an incredible increase in the amount of productive time available to drivers – there are also many issues that will need to be worked through as this technology becomes more advanced. Who will be responsible if a self-driving car gets in an accident? Who will decide how the code is written? How will insurance for driverless cars work? What risks will need to be insured against? How will states and the federal government adjust laws and regulations as self-driving cars become more prevalent? And how will autonomous cars affect litigation? While the answers to many of these questions are unclear at this point, it is vital to begin considering how driverless cars will fit into and change our society. While a self-driving car still seems futuristic, there are many cars on the road today with extensive autonomous features, and a truly driverless car will eventually be introduced on the market.

The world of self-driving cars is changing every day, with more and more technology introduced each month. These pages are designed to help you explore the world of self-driving vehicles and gain a better understanding of not only the current state of their development, but also how these vehicles will impact society. 

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