The news articles about self-driving cars are coming relatively fast and furious considering that the closest thing to autonomous cars commercially available on the road today are cars that can parallel park themselves. This April 10 article, Former General Motors R&D chief says self-driving cars will be on sale by 2020, points out why, considering that it suggests that the plans are to go from the current self-parking cars to close to fully autonomous cars in just 8 years. In an excerpt from the article, Larry Burns, the former GM R&D chief, states that he “sees a day when true driverless cars with no one on board will be shuttling about servicing many passengers over the course of a day, rather than sitting around for hours parked and waiting for their owner.” I’m not sure if the current powers at GM are looking forward to that vision, as it seems to point away from the concept that every citizen should have their own personal car. I am certain I am not the only individual realizing that would mean much fewer auto sales.
The plans apparently are for a slow transition toward fully autonomous, with Self-driving Cadillacs coming mid-decade. Considering that we are already two years into this decade that sounds unrealistically soon to me, even for the less than fully autonomous “super cruise-control” that is proposed in the above article. However, the technology to implement self-driving cars exists, and it seems to me that the biggest obstacle will be public acceptance.