While we still don’t have flying cars, self-driving cars are headed our way in the very near future. Already, automotive manufacturers are testing their first versions of these innovations, but are they ready to hit the mass market? That may be a matter of opinion, as the facts about self-driving cars continue to raise more questions than they answer.
Even if manufacturers offer a wide variety of self-driving cars, it will be a long while before you see them out in full force. This may not be because auto manufacturers are failing, but because society and our governments are failing to keep up. Firstly, just because self-driving cars are available, that doesn’t mean consumers are going to run right out and buy one. The high cost of vehicles compels people to hang onto their cars for as long as they can and most people hope to keep their cars long after the loan on the vehicle has been paid.
Additionally, roads will have to be adapted and laws will have to be drafted to permit the use of self-driving cars on a wider scale. Most cities have difficulty in repairing existing roads, so they’re unlikely to approve funding to adapt roads and implement technology that will make it possible for these cars to function. The safety of self-driving cars will rely largely on their ability to communicate with the roads and with other vehicles, so these improvements will be necessary.
Finally, the traffic laws will have to be changed to accommodate self-driving cars. On city streets, that may come sooner, since local governments often act faster and with less red tape. This means we’ll see self-driving cars on surface streets long before they are permitted to hit the highways.
Federal and state laws take much longer to change, so don’t expect to see driverless cars speeding down the interstate anytime soon. That means self-driving cars will have to differentiate between which roads they are prohibited from accessing and those they can drive freely on. This logistical dilemma may mean stalling the addition of self-driving cars to our roadways, until after local, state, and federal laws can catch up. So, while automotive manufacturers may be eager to share this new technology, it may still take months or even years to see these innovations populating the streets.
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