Self-driving car

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Waymo Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid undergoing testing in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Automated racing car on display at the 2017 New York City ePrix.

A self-driving car, also known as a robot car, autonomous car, auto, or driverless car,[1][2] is a vehicle that is capable of sensing its environment and moving with little or no human input.[3]

Autonomous cars combine a variety of sensors to perceive their surroundings, such as radar, computer vision, Lidar, sonar, GPS, odometry and inertial measurement units. Advanced control systems interpret sensory information to identify appropriate navigation paths, as well as obstacles and relevant signage.[4][5]

Potential benefits include reduced costs, increased safety, increased mobility, increased customer satisfaction and reduced crime. Safety benefits include a reduction in traffic collisions,[6][7] resulting injuries and related costs, including for insurance. Automated cars are predicted to increase traffic flow;[8] provide enhanced mobility for children, the elderly,[9] disabled, and the poor; relieve travelers from driving and navigation chores; lower fuel consumption; significantly reduce needs for parking space;[10] reduce crime;[11] and facilitate business models for transportation as a service, especially via the sharing economy.[12][13]

Problems include safety,[14] technology, liability,[15][16] desire by individuals to control their cars,[17] legal framework and government regulations; risk of loss of privacy and security concerns, such as hackers or terrorism; concern about the resulting loss of driving-related jobs in the road transport industry; and risk of increased suburbanization as travel becomes more convenient.



General Motors' Firebird II of the 1950s was described as having an "electronic brain" that allowed it to move into a lane with a metal conductor and follow it along.
1960 Citroën DS19, modified by TRL for automatic guidance experiments, on display at the Science Museum, London.[18]

Experiments have been conducted on automated driving systems (ADS) since at least the 1920s;[19] trials began in the 1950s. The first truly automated car was developed in 1977, by Japan's Tsukuba Mechanical Engineering Laboratory. The vehicle tracked white street markers, which were interpreted by two cameras on the vehicle, using an analog computer for signal processing. The vehicle reached speeds up to 30 kilometres per hour (19 mph), with the support of an elevated rail.[20][21]

Autonomous prototype cars appeared in the 1980s, with Carnegie Mellon University's Navlab[22] and ALV[23][24] projects funded by DARPA starting in 1984 and Mercedes-Benz and Bundeswehr University Munich's EUREKA Prometheus Project[25] in 1987. By 1985, the ALV had demonstrated self-driving speeds on two-lane roads of 31 kilometres per hour (19 mph) with obstacle avoidance added in 1986 and off-road driving in day and nighttime conditions by 1987.[26] From the 1960s through the second DARPA Grand Challenge in 2005, automated vehicle research in the U.S. was primarily funded by DARPA, the US Army, and the U.S. Navy, yielding incremental advances in speeds, driving competence in more complex conditions, controls, and sensor systems.[27] Companies and research organizations have developed prototypes.[25][28][29][30][31][32][33][34][35]

The U.S. allocated $650 million in 1991 for research on the National Automated Highway System, which demonstrated automated driving through a combination of automation, embedded in the highway with automated technology in vehicles and cooperative networking between the vehicles and with the highway infrastructure. The program concluded with a successful demonstration in 1997 but without clear direction or funding to implement the system on a larger scale.[36] Partly funded by the National Automated Highway System and DARPA, the Carnegie Mellon University Navlab drove 4,584 kilometres (2,848 mi) across America in 1995, 4,501 kilometres (2,797 mi) or 98% of it autonomously.[37] Navlab's record achievement stood unmatched for two decades until 2015 when Delphi improved it by piloting an Audi, augmented with Delphi technology, over 5,472 kilometres (3,400 mi) through 15 states while remaining in self-driving mode 99% of the time.[38] In 2015, the US states of Nevada, Florida, California, Virginia, and Michigan, together with Washington, D.C., allowed the testing of automated cars on public roads.[39]

In 2017, Audi stated that its latest A8 would be automated at speeds of up to 60 kilometres per hour (37 mph) using its "Audi AI." The driver would not have to do safety checks such as frequently gripping the steering wheel. The Audi A8 was claimed to be the first production car to reach level 3 automated driving, and Audi would be the first manufacturer to use laser scanners in addition to cameras and ultrasonic sensors for their system.[40]

In November 2017, Waymo announced that it had begun testing driverless cars without a safety driver in the driver position;[41] however, there was still an employee in the car.[42] In October 2018, Waymo announced that its test vehicles had traveled in automated mode for over 10,000,000 miles (16,000,000 km), increasing by about 1,000,000 miles (1,600,000 kilometres) per month.[43] In December 2018, Waymo was the first to commercialize a fully autonomous taxi service in the U.S.[44]


There is some inconsistency in terminology used in the self-driving car industry. Various organizations have proposed to define an accurate and consistent vocabulary.

Such confusion has been documented in SAE J3016 which states that "Some vernacular usages associate autonomous specifically with full driving automation (level 5), while other usages apply it to all levels of driving automation, and some state legislation has defined it to correspond approximately to any ADS at or above level 3 (or to any vehicle equipped with such an ADS)."

Words definition and safety considerations[edit]

Modern vehicles provide partly automated features such as keeping the car within its lane, speed controls or emergency braking. Nonetheless, differences remain between a fully autonomous self-driving car on one hand and driver assistance technologies on the other hand. According to the BBC, confusion between those concepts leads to deaths.[45]

Association of British Insurers considers the usage of the word autonomous in marketing for modern cars to be dangerous, because car ads make motorists think 'autonomous' and 'autopilot' means a vehicle can drive itself, when they still rely on the driver to ensure safety. Technology alone still is not able to drive the car.

When some car makers suggest or claim vehicles are self-driving, when they are only partly automated, drivers risk becoming excessively confident, leading to crashes, while fully self-driving cars are still a long way off in the UK.[46]

Autonomous vs. automated[edit]

Autonomous means self-governing.[47] Many historical projects related to vehicle automation have been automated (made automatic) subject to a heavy reliance on artificial aids in their environment, such as magnetic strips. Autonomous control implies satisfactory performance under significant uncertainties in the environment and the ability to compensate for system failures without external intervention.[47]

One approach is to implement communication networks both in the immediate vicinity (for collision avoidance) and farther away (for congestion management). Such outside influences in the decision process reduce an individual vehicle's autonomy, while still not requiring human intervention.

Wood et al. (2012) wrote, "This Article generally uses the term 'autonomous,' instead of the term 'automated.' " The term "autonomous" was chosen "because it is the term that is currently in more widespread use (and thus is more familiar to the general public). However, the latter term is arguably more accurate. 'Automated' connotes control or operation by a machine, while 'autonomous' connotes acting alone or independently. Most of the vehicle concepts (that we are currently aware of) have a person in the driver’s seat, utilize a communication connection to the Cloud or other vehicles, and do not independently select either destinations or routes for reaching them. Thus, the term 'automated' would more accurately describe these vehicle concepts."[48] As of 2017, most commercial projects focused on automated vehicles that did not communicate with other vehicles or with an enveloping management regime.

Put in the words of one Nissan engineer, "A truly autonomous car would be one where you request it to take you to work and it decides to go to the beach instead."[49]

EuroNCAP defines autonomous in "Autonomous Emergency Braking" as: "the system acts independently of the driver to avoid or mitigate the accident." which implies the autonomous system is not the driver.[50]

Autonomous versus cooperative[edit]

To make a car travel without any driver embedded within the vehicle some system makers used a remote driver.

But according to SAE J3016,

Some driving automation systems may indeed be autonomous if they perform all of their functions independently and self-sufficiently, but if they depend on communication and/or cooperation with outside entities, they should be considered cooperative rather than autonomous.

Self-driving car[edit]

Techemergence says.

“Self-driving” is a rather vague term with a vague meaning

— Techemergence[51]

PC mag definition is:

A computer-controlled car that drives itself. Also called an "autonomous vehicle" and "driverless car," self-driving cars date back to the 1939 New York World's Fair when General Motors predicted the development of self-driving, radio-controlled electric cars.

— PCmag.[52]

UCSUSA definition is:

Self-driving vehicles are cars or trucks in which human drivers are never required to take control to safely operate the vehicle. Also known as autonomous or “driverless” cars, they combine sensors and software to control, navigate, and drive the vehicle. Currently, there are no legally operating, fully autonomous vehicles in the United States.

— UCSUSA[53]

NHTSA definition is:

These self-driving vehicles ultimately will integrate onto U.S. roadways by progressing through six levels of driver assistance technology advancements in the coming years. This includes everything from no automation (where a fully engaged driver is required at all times), to full autonomy (where an automated vehicle operates independently, without a human driver).

— NHTSA.[54]

NHTSA definition is:

Let’s be clear: fully automated or “self-driving” vehicles aren’t arriving in showrooms tomorrow; they’re likely years, maybe even decades, away. What we’re experiencing is an evolution in vehicle safety that is leading toward cars and trucks that help us drive more safely.

— NHTSA.[55]

According to Techemergence

This means the vehicle can safely drive itself under specific conditions but the driver will need to quickly intervene when called on. This is a car that could drive itself on the highway while you watch a movie but would need you to take control when you get off the highway. Some may view this as only partially self-driving.

— Techemergence,[51] July 2018

According to Techemergence

it will be useful to understand that most executives referring to “self-driving” are referring to levels 3 and 4.

— Techemergence,[51] July 2018


Tesla Autopilot system is considered to be an SAE level 2 system.[56]

A classification system based on six different levels (ranging from fully manual to fully automated systems) was published in 2014 by SAE International, an automotive standardization body, as J3016, Taxonomy and Definitions for Terms Related to On-Road Motor Vehicle Automated Driving Systems.[57][58] This classification system is based on the amount of driver intervention and attentiveness required, rather than the vehicle capabilities, although these are very loosely related. In the United States in 2013, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a formal classification system,[59] but abandoned this system in favor of the SAE standard in 2016. Also in 2016, SAE updated its classification, called J3016_201609.[60]

Levels of driving automation[edit]

In SAE's automation level definitions, "driving mode" means "a type of driving scenario with characteristic dynamic driving task requirements (e.g., expressway merging, high speed cruising, low speed traffic jam, closed-campus operations, etc.)"[61]

  • Level 0: Automated system issues warnings and may momentarily intervene but has no sustained vehicle control.
  • Level 1 ("hands on"): The driver and the automated system share control of the vehicle. Examples are Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), where the driver controls steering and the automated system controls speed; and Parking Assistance, where steering is automated while speed is under manual control. The driver must be ready to retake full control at any time. Lane Keeping Assistance (LKA) Type II is a further example of level 1 self-driving.
  • Level 2 ("hands off"): The automated system takes full control of the vehicle (accelerating, braking, and steering). The driver must monitor the driving and be prepared to intervene immediately at any time if the automated system fails to respond properly. The shorthand "hands off" is not meant to be taken literally. In fact, contact between hand and wheel is often mandatory during SAE 2 driving, to confirm that the driver is ready to intervene.
  • Level 3 ("eyes off"): The driver can safely turn their attention away from the driving tasks, e.g. the driver can text or watch a movie. The vehicle will handle situations that call for an immediate response, like emergency braking. The driver must still be prepared to intervene within some limited time, specified by the manufacturer, when called upon by the vehicle to do so. As an example, the 2018 Audi A8 Luxury Sedan was the first commercial car to claim to be capable of level 3 self-driving. This particular car has a so-called Traffic Jam Pilot. When activated by the human driver, the car takes full control of all aspects of driving in slow-moving traffic at up to 60 kilometres per hour (37 mph). The function works only on highways with a physical barrier separating one stream of traffic from oncoming traffic.
  • Level 4 ("mind off"): As level 3, but no driver attention is ever required for safety, e.g. the driver may safely go to sleep or leave the driver's seat. Self-driving is supported only in limited spatial areas (geofenced) or under special circumstances, like traffic jams. Outside of these areas or circumstances, the vehicle must be able to safely abort the trip, e.g. park the car, if the driver does not retake control.
  • Level 5 ("steering wheel optional"): No human intervention is required at all. An example would be a robotic taxi.

In the formal SAE definition below, note in particular what happens in the shift from SAE 2 to SAE 3: the human driver no longer has to monitor the environment. This is the final aspect of the "dynamic driving task" that is now passed over from the human to the automated system. At SAE 3, the human driver still has the responsibility to intervene when asked to do so by the automated system. At SAE 4 the human driver is relieved of that responsibility and at SAE 5 the automated system will never need to ask for an intervention.

SAE (J3016) Automation Levels[61]
SAE Level Name Narrative definition Execution of
steering and
Monitoring of driving environment Fallback performance of dynamic driving task System capability (driving modes)
Human driver monitors the driving environment
0 No Automation The full-time performance by the human driver of all aspects of the dynamic driving task, even when "enhanced by warning or intervention systems" Human driver Human driver Human driver n/a
1 Driver Assistance The driving mode-specific execution by a driver assistance system of "either steering or acceleration/deceleration" using information about the driving environment and with the expectation that the human driver performs all remaining aspects of the dynamic driving task Human driver and system Some driving modes
2 Partial Automation The driving mode-specific execution by one or more driver assistance systems of both steering and acceleration/deceleration System
Automated driving system monitors the driving environment
3 Conditional Automation The driving mode-specific performance by an automated driving system of all aspects of the dynamic driving task with the expectation that the human driver will respond appropriately to a request to intervene System System Human driver Some driving modes
4 High Automation even if a human driver does not respond appropriately to a request to intervene System Many driving modes
5 Full Automation under all roadway and environmental conditions that can be managed by a human driver All driving modes

Legal definition[edit]

In the District of Columbia (DC) code,

“Autonomous vehicle” means a vehicle capable of navigating District roadways and interpreting traffic-control devices without a driver actively operating any of the vehicle’s control systems. The term “autonomous vehicle” excludes a motor vehicle enabled with active safety systems or driver- assistance systems, including systems to provide electronic blind-spot assistance, crash avoidance, emergency braking, parking assistance, adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assistance, lane-departure warning, or traffic-jam and queuing assistance, unless the system alone or in combination with other systems enables the vehicle on which the technology is installed to drive without active control or monitoring by a human operator.

In the same district code, it is considered that:

An autonomous vehicle may operate on a public roadway; provided, that the vehicle:

  • (1) Has a manual override feature that allows a driver to assume control of the autonomous vehicle at any time;
  • (2) Has a driver seated in the control seat of the vehicle while in operation who is prepared to take control of the autonomous vehicle at any moment; and
  • (3) Is capable of operating in compliance with the District’s applicable traffic laws and motor vehicle laws and traffic control devices.

Semi-automated vehicles[edit]

Between manually driven vehicles (SAE Level 0) and fully autonomous vehicles (SAE Level 5), there are a variety of vehicle types that can be described to have some degree of automation. These are collectively known as semi-automated vehicles. As it could be a while before the technology and infrastructure is developed for full automation, it is likely that vehicles will have increasing levels of automation. These semi-automated vehicles could potentially harness many of the advantages of fully automated vehicles, while still keeping the driver in charge of the vehicle.

Technical challenges[edit]

The challenge for driverless car designers is to produce control systems capable of analyzing sensory data in order to provide accurate detection of other vehicles and the road ahead.[62] Modern self-driving cars generally use Bayesian simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) algorithms,[63] which fuse data from multiple sensors and an off-line map into current location estimates and map updates. Waymo has developed a variant of SLAM with detection and tracking of other moving objects (DATMO), which also handles obstacles such as cars and pedestrians. Simpler systems may use roadside real-time locating system (RTLS) technologies to aid localization. Typical sensors include Lidar, stereo vision, GPS and IMU.[64][65] Udacity is developing an open-source software stack.[66] Control systems on automated cars may use Sensor Fusion, which is an approach that integrates information from a variety of sensors on the car to produce a more consistent, accurate, and useful view of the environment.[67]

Driverless vehicles require some form of machine vision for the purpose of visual object recognition. Automated cars are being developed with deep neural networks,[64] a type of deep learning architecture with many computational stages, or levels, in which neurons are simulated from the environment that activate the network.[68] The neural network depends on an extensive amount of data extracted from real-life driving scenarios,[64] enabling the neural network to "learn" how to execute the best course of action.[68]

In May 2018, researchers from MIT announced that they had built an automated car that can navigate unmapped roads.[69] Researchers at their Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) have developed a new system, called MapLite, which allows self-driving cars to drive on roads that they have never been on before, without using 3D maps. The system combines the GPS position of the vehicle, a "sparse topological map" such as OpenStreetMap, (i.e. having 2D features of the roads only), and a series of sensors that observe the road conditions.[70]

Nature of the digital technology[edit]

Autonomous vehicles, as a digital technology, have certain characteristics that distinguishes them from other types of technologies and vehicles. Due to these characteristics, autonomous vehicles are able to be more transformative and agile to possible changes. The characteristics will be explained based on the following subjects: homogenization and decoupling, connectivity, reprogrammable and smart, digital traces and modularity.

Homogenization and decoupling[edit]

Homogenization comes from the fact that all digital information assumes the same form. During the ongoing evolution of the digital era, certain industry standards have been developed on how to store digital information and in what type of format. This concept of homogenization also implies to autonomous vehicles. In order for autonomous vehicles to perceive their surroundings, they have to use different techniques each with their own accompanying digital information (e.g. radar, GPS, motion sensors and computer vision). Due to homogenization, the digital information from these different techniques is stored in a homogeneous way. This implies that all digital information comes in the same form, which means their differences are decoupled, and digital information can be transmitted, stored and computed in a way that the vehicles and its operating system can better understand and act upon it. Homogenization also helps to exponentially increase the computing power of hard- and software (Moore's law) which also supports the autonomous vehicles to understand and act upon the digital information in a more cost-effective way, therefore lowering the marginal costs.;


Connectivity means that users of a certain digital technology can connect easily with other users, other applications or even (other) enterprises. In the case of autonomous vehicles, it is essential for them to connect with other ‘devices’ in order to function most effectively. Autonomous vehicles are equipped with communication systems which allow them to communicate with other autonomous vehicles and roadside units to provide them, amongst other things, with information about road work or traffic congestion. In addition, scientists believe that the future will have computer programs that connects and manages each individual autonomous vehicle as it navigates through an intersection. This type of connectivity must replace traffic lights and stop signs.[71] These types of characteristics drive and further develop the ability of autonomous vehicles to understand and cooperate with other products and services (such as intersection computer systems) in the autonomous vehicles market. This could lead to a network of autonomous vehicles all using the same network and information available on that network. Eventually, this can lead to more autonomous vehicles using the network because the information has been validated through usage of other autonomous vehicles. Such movements will strengthen the value of the network and is called network externalities.;

Reprogrammable and smart[edit]

Another characteristic of autonomous vehicles is that the core product will have a greater emphasis on the software and its possibilities, instead of the chassis and its engine. This is because autonomous vehicles have software systems that drive the vehicle meaning that updates through reprogramming or editing the software can enhance the benefits of the owner (e.g. update in better distinguishing blind person vs. non-blind person so that the vehicle will take extra caution when approaching a blind person). A characteristic of this reprogrammable part of autonomous vehicles is that the updates need not only to come from the supplier, cause through machine learning (smart) autonomous vehicles can generate certain updates and install them accordingly (e.g. new navigation maps or new intersection computer systems). These reprogrammable characteristics of the digital technology and the possibility of smart machine learning give manufacturers of autonomous vehicles the opportunity to differentiate themselves on software. This also implies that autonomous vehicles are never finished because the product can be continuously be improved.;

Digital traces[edit]

Autonomous vehicles are equipped with different sorts of sensors and radars. As said, this allows them to connect and interoperate with computers from other autonomous vehicles and/or roadside units. This implies that autonomous vehicles leave digital traces when they connect or interoperate. The data that comes from these digital traces can be used to develop new (to be determined) products or updates to enhance autonomous vehicles’ driving ability or safety.


Traditional vehicles and their accompanying (traditional) technologies are manufactured as a product that will be complete, and unlike autonomous vehicles, they can only be improved if they are redesigned or reproduced. As said, autonomous vehicles are produced but due to their digital characteristics never finished. This is because autonomous vehicles are more modular since they are made up out of several modules which will be explained hereafter through a Layered Modular Architecture. The Layered Modular Architecture extends the architecture of purely physical vehicles by incorporating four loosely coupled layers of devices, networks, services and contents into Autonomous Vehicles. These loosely coupled layers can interact through certain standardized interfaces.

  • (1) The first layer of this architecture consists of the device layer. This layer consists of the following two parts: logical capability and physical machinery. The physical machinery refers to the actual vehicle itself (e.g. chassis and carrosserie). When it comes to digital technologies, the physical machinery is accompanied by a logical capability layer in the form of operating systems that helps to guide the vehicles itself and make it autonomous. The logical capability provides the control over the vehicle and connects it with the other layers.;
  • (2) On top of the device layer comes the network layer. This layer also consists of two different parts: physical transport and logical transmission. The physical transport layer refers to the radars, sensors and cables of the autonomous vehicles which enable the transmission of digital information. Next to that, the network layer of autonomous vehicles also has a logical transmission which contains communication protocols and network standard to communicate the digital information with other networks and platforms or between layers. This increases the accessibility of the autonomous vehicles and enables computational power of a network or platform.;
  • (3) The service layer contains the applications and their functionalities that serves the autonomous vehicle (and its owners) as they extract, create, store and consume content with regards to their own driving history, traffic congestion, roads or parking abilities for example.; and
  • (4) The final layer of the model is the contents layer. This layer contains the sounds, images and videos the autonomous vehicles store, extract and use to act upon and improve their driving and understanding of the environment. The contents layer also provides metadata and directory information about the content's origin, ownership, copyright, encoding methods, content tags, geo-time stamps, and so on (Yoo et al., 2010).

The consequence of layered modular architecture of autonomous vehicles (and other digital technologies) is that it enables the emergence and development of platforms and ecosystems around a product and/or certain modules of that product. Traditionally, automotive vehicles were developed, manufactured and maintained by traditional manufacturers. Nowadays app developers and content creators can help to develop a more comprehensive product experience for the consumers which creates a platform around the product of autonomous vehicles.}}

Human factor challenges[edit]

Alongside the many technical challenges that autonomous cars face, there exist many human and social factors that may impede upon the wider uptake of the technology. As things become more automated, the human users need to have trust in the automation,[72] which can be a challenge in itself.[73] Weather may also affect the car sensors, which may affect the auto driving mode. When heavy rainfall, heavy storms, heavy snowfall affect or damage the car sensors. Because of this, the performance of the car decreases gradually and the chance of accidents increases.


Testing vehicles with varying degrees of automation can be done physically, in closed environments,[74] on public roads (where permitted, typically with a license or permit[75] or adhering to a specific set of operating principles)[76] or virtually, i.e. in computer simulations.[77]

When driven on public roads, automated vehicles require a person to monitor their proper operation and "take over" when needed. For example, New York State has strict requirements for the test driver so that at all times the vehicle can be corrected by a licensed driver; highlighted by Cardian Cube Company's application and discussions with New York State officials and the NYS DMV.[78]

Apple is currently testing self-driven cars, and has increased the number of test vehicles from 3 to 27 in January 2018,[79] and to 45 in March 2018.[80]

One way to assess the progress of automated vehicles is to compute the average distance driven between "disengagements", when the automated system is turned off, typically by a human driver. In 2017, Waymo reported 63 disengagements over 352,545 miles (567,366 km) of testing, or 5,596 miles (9,006 km) on average, the highest among companies reporting such figures. Waymo also traveled more distance in total than any other. Their 2017 rate of 0.18 disengagements per 1,000 miles (1,600 km) was an improvement from 0.2 disengagements per 1,000 miles (1,600 km) in 2016 and 0.8 in 2015. In March, 2017, Uber reported an average of 0.67 miles (1.08 km) per disengagement. In the final three months of 2017, Cruise Automation (now owned by GM) averaged 5,224 miles (8,407 km) per disruption over 62,689 miles (100,888 km).[81] In July 2018, the first electric driverless racing car "Robocar" completed 1.8 kilometers track, using its navigation system and artificial intelligence.[82]

Miles per disengagement[81]
Maker 2016
Distance between
Waymo 5,127.9 miles (8,252.6 km) 635,868 miles (1,023,330 km)
BMW 638 miles (1,027 km) 638 miles (1,027 km)
Nissan 263.3 miles (423.7 km) 6,056 miles (9,746 km)
Ford 196.6 miles (316.4 km) 590 miles (950 km)
General Motors 54.7 miles (88.0 km) 8,156 miles (13,126 km)
Delphi Automotive Systems 14.9 miles (24.0 km) 2,658 miles (4,278 km)
Tesla 2.9 miles (4.7 km) 550 miles (890 km)
Mercedes Benz 2 miles (3.2 km) 673 miles (1,083 km)
Bosch 0.68 miles (1.09 km) 983 miles (1,582 km)

Fields of application[edit]

Automated trucks[edit]

Several companies are said to be testing automated technology in semi trucks. Otto, a self-driving trucking company that was acquired by Uber in August 2016, demonstrated their trucks on the highway before being acquired.[83] In May 2017, San Francisco-based startup Embark[84] announced a partnership with truck manufacturer Peterbilt to test and deploy automated technology in Peterbilt's vehicles.[85] Waymo has also said to be testing automated technology in trucks,[86] however no timeline has been given for the project.

In March 2018, Starsky Robotics, the San Francisco-based automated truck company, completed a 7-mile (11 km) fully driverless trip in Florida without a single human in the truck. Starsky Robotics became the first player in the self-driving truck game to drive in fully automated mode on a public road without a person in the cab.[87]

In Europe, truck platooning is being considered with the Safe Road Trains for the Environment approach.[citation needed]

Lockheed Martin with funding from the U.S. Army developed an automated truck convoying system that uses a lead truck operated by a human driver with a number of trucks following autonomously.[88] Developed as part of the Army's Autonomous Mobility Applique System (AMAS), the system consists of an automated driving package that has been installed on more than nine types of vehicles and has completed more than 55,000 hours of driving at speeds up to 64 kilometres per hour (40 mph) as of 2014.[89] As of 2017 the Army was planning to field 100–200 trucks as part of a rapid-fielding program.

Transport systems[edit]

In Europe, cities in Belgium, France, Italy and the UK are planning to operate transport systems for automated cars,[90][91][92] and Germany, the Netherlands, and Spain have allowed public testing in traffic. In 2015, the UK launched public trials of the LUTZ Pathfinder automated pod in Milton Keynes.[93] Beginning in summer 2015, the French government allowed PSA Peugeot-Citroen to make trials in real conditions in the Paris area. The experiments were planned to be extended to other cities such as Bordeaux and Strasbourg by 2016.[94] The alliance between French companies THALES and Valeo (provider of the first self-parking car system that equips Audi and Mercedes premi) is testing its own system.[95] New Zealand is planning to use automated vehicles for public transport in Tauranga and Christchurch.[96][97][98][99]

In China, Baidu and King Long produce automated minibus, a vehicle with 14 seats, but without driving seat. With 100 vehicles produced, 2018 will be the first year with commercial automated service in China. Those minibuses should be at level 4, that is driverless in closed roads.[citation needed]

Potential advantages[edit]


Driving safety experts predict that once driverless technology has been fully developed, traffic collisions (and resulting deaths and injuries and costs), caused by human error, such as delayed reaction time, tailgating, rubbernecking, and other forms of distracted or aggressive driving should be substantially reduced.[7][12][13][100] Consulting firm McKinsey & Company estimated that widespread use of autonomous vehicles could "eliminate 90% of all auto accidents in the United States, prevent up to US$190 billion in damages and health-costs annually and save thousands of lives."[101]

According to motorist website "" operated by Time magazine, none of the driving safety experts they were able to contact were able to rank driving under an autopilot system at the time (2017) as having achieved a greater level of safety than traditional fully hands-on driving, so the degree to which these benefits asserted by proponents will manifest in practice cannot be assessed.[102] Confounding factors that could reduce the net effect on safety may include unexpected interactions between humans and partly or fully automated vehicles, or between different types of vehicle system; complications at the boundaries of functionality at each automation level (such as handover when the vehicle reaches the limit of its capacity); the effect of the bugs and flaws that inevitably occur in complex interdependent software systems; sensor or data shortcomings; and successful compromise by malicious interveners.


Automated cars could reduce labor costs;[103][104] relieve travelers from driving and navigation chores, thereby replacing behind-the-wheel commuting hours with more time for leisure or work;[7][100] and also would lift constraints on occupant ability to drive, distracted and texting while driving, intoxicated, prone to seizures, or otherwise impaired.[105][106][9] For the young, the elderly, people with disabilities, and low-income citizens, automated cars could provide enhanced mobility.[107][108][109] The removal of the steering wheel—along with the remaining driver interface and the requirement for any occupant to assume a forward-facing position—would give the interior of the cabin greater ergonomic flexibility. Large vehicles, such as motorhomes, would attain appreciably enhanced ease of use.[110]


Additional advantages could include higher speed limits;[111] smoother rides;[112] and increased roadway capacity; and minimized traffic congestion, due to decreased need for safety gaps and higher speeds.[113][114] Currently, maximum controlled-access highway throughput or capacity according to the U.S. Highway Capacity Manual is about 2,200 passenger vehicles per hour per lane, with about 5% of the available road space is taken up by cars. One study estimated that automated cars could increase capacity by 273% (~8,200 cars per hour per lane). The study also estimated that with 100% connected vehicles using vehicle-to-vehicle communication, capacity could reach 12,000 passenger vehicles per hour (up 445% from 2,200 pc/h per lane) traveling safely at 120 km/h (75 mph) with a following gap of about 6 m (20 ft) of each other. Currently, at highway speeds drivers keep between 40 to 50 m (130 to 160 ft) away from the car in front. These increases in highway capacity could have a significant impact in traffic congestion, particularly in urban areas, and even effectively end highway congestion in some places.[115] The ability for authorities to manage traffic flow would increase, given the extra data and driving behavior predictability[8] combined with less need for traffic police and even road signage.

Lower costs[edit]

Safer driving is expected to reduce the costs of vehicle insurance.[103][116] Reduced traffic congestion and the improvements in traffic flow due to widespread use of automated cars will also translate into better fuel efficiency.[109][117][118] Additionally, self-driving cars will be able to accelerate and brake more efficiently, meaning higher fuel economy from reducing wasted energy typically associated with inefficient changes to speed (energy typically lost due to friction, in the form of heat and sound).

Parking space[edit]

Manually driven vehicles are reported to be used only 4–5% of the time, and being parked and unused for the remaining 95–96% of the time.[119][120] Autonomous vehicles could, on the other hand, be used continuously after it has reached its destination. This could dramatically reduce the need for parking space. For example, in Los Angeles, 14% of the land is used for parking alone,[121] equivalent to some 17,020,594 square meters.[122] This combined with the potential reduced need for road space due to improved traffic flow, could free up tremendous amounts of land in urban areas, which could then be used for parks, recreational areas, buildings, among other uses; making cities more livable.

Related effects[edit]

By reducing the (labor and other) cost of mobility as a service, automated cars could reduce the number of cars that are individually owned, replaced by taxi/pooling and other car sharing services.[123][124] This would also dramatically reduce the size of the automotive production industry, with corresponding environmental and economic effects. Assuming the increased efficiency is not fully offset by increases in demand, more efficient traffic flow could free roadway space for other uses such as better support for pedestrians and cyclists.

The vehicles' increased awareness could aid the police by reporting on illegal passenger behavior, while possibly enabling other crimes, such as deliberately crashing into another vehicle or a pedestrian.[11] However, this may also lead to much expanded mass surveillance if there is wide access granted to third parties to the large data sets generated.

The future of passenger rail transport in the era of automated cars is not clear.[125]

Potential limits or obstacles[edit]

The sort of hoped-for potential benefits from increased vehicle automation described may be limited by foreseeable challenges, such as disputes over liability (will each company operating a vehicle accept that they are its "driver" and thus responsible for what their car does, or will some try to project this liability onto others who are not in control?),[15][16] the time needed to turn over the existing stock of vehicles from non-automated to automated,[126] and thus a long period of humans and autonomous vehicles sharing the roads, resistance by individuals to having to forfeit control of their cars,[17] concerns about the safety of driverless in practice,[14] and the implementation of a legal framework and consistent global government regulations for self-driving cars.[127] Other obstacles could include de-skilling and lower levels of driver experience for dealing with potentially dangerous situations and anomalies,[128] ethical problems where an automated vehicle's software is forced during an unavoidable crash to choose between multiple harmful courses of action ('the trolley problem'),[129][130][131] concerns about making large numbers of people currently employed as drivers unemployed (at the same time as many other alternate blue collar occupations may be undermined by automation), the potential for more intrusive mass surveillance of location, association and travel as a result of police and intelligence agency access to large data sets generated by sensors and pattern-recognition AI (making anonymous travel difficult), and possibly insufficient understanding of verbal sounds, gestures and non-verbal cues by police, other drivers or pedestrians.[132]

Possible technological obstacles for automated cars are:

  • Artificial Intelligence is still not able to function properly in chaotic inner-city environments.[133]
  • A car's computer could potentially be compromised, as could a communication system between cars.[134][135][136][137][138]
  • Susceptibility of the car's sensing and navigation systems to different types of weather (such as snow) or deliberate interference, including jamming and spoofing.[132]
  • Avoidance of large animals requires recognition and tracking, and Volvo found that software suited to caribou, deer, and elk was ineffective with kangaroos.[139]
  • Autonomous cars may require very high-quality specialised maps[140] to operate properly. Where these maps may be out of date, they would need to be able to fall back to reasonable behaviors.[132][141]
  • Competition for the radio spectrum desired for the car's communication.[142]
  • Field programmability for the systems will require careful evaluation of product development and the component supply chain.[138]
  • Current road infrastructure may need changes for automated cars to function optimally.[143]
  • Discrepancy between people's beliefs of the necessary government intervention may cause a delay in accepting automated cars on the road.[144] Whether the public desires no change in existing laws, federal regulation, or another solution; the framework of regulation will likely result in differences of opinion.[144]
  • Employment – Companies working on the technology have an increasing recruitment problem in that the available talent pool has not grown with demand.[145] As such, education and training by third party organisations such as providers of online courses and self-taught community-driven projects such as DIY Robocars[146] and Formula Pi have quickly grown in popularity, while university level extra-curricular programmes such as Formula Student Driverless[147] have bolstered graduate experience. Industry is steadily increasing freely available information sources, such as code,[148] datasets[149] and glossaries[150] to widen the recruitment pool.

Potential disadvantages[edit]

A direct impact of widespread adoption of automated vehicles is the loss of driving-related jobs in the road transport industry.[103][104][151] There could be resistance from professional drivers and unions who are threatened by job losses.[152] In addition, there could be job losses in public transit services and crash repair shops. The automobile insurance industry might suffer as the technology makes certain aspects of these occupations obsolete.[109] A frequently cited paper by Michael Osborne and Carl Benedikt Frey found that automated cars would make many jobs redundant.[153]

Privacy could be an issue when having the vehicle's location and position integrated into an interface in which other people have access to.[154] In addition, there is the risk of automotive hacking through the sharing of information through V2V (Vehicle to Vehicle) and V2I (Vehicle to Infrastructure) protocols.[155][156][157] There is also the risk of terrorist attacks. Self-driving cars could potentially be loaded with explosives and used as bombs.[158]

The lack of stressful driving, more productive time during the trip, and the potential savings in travel time and cost could become an incentive to live far away from cities, where land is cheaper, and work in the city's core, thus increasing travel distances and inducing more urban sprawl, more fuel consumption and an increase in the carbon footprint of urban travel.[159][160] There is also the risk that traffic congestion might increase, rather than decrease.[109] Appropriate public policies and regulations, such as zoning, pricing, and urban design are required to avoid the negative impacts of increased suburbanization and longer distance travel.[109][160]

Some believe that once automation in vehicles reaches higher levels and becomes reliable, drivers will pay less attention to the road.[161] Research shows that drivers in automated cars react later when they have to intervene in a critical situation, compared to if they were driving manually.[162] Depending on the capabilities of automated vehicles and the frequency with which human intervention is needed, this may counteract any increase in safety, as compared to all-human driving, that may be delivered by other factors.

Ethical and moral reasoning come into consideration when programming the software that decides what action the car takes in an unavoidable crash; whether the automated car will crash into a bus, potentially killing people inside; or swerve elsewhere, potentially killing its own passengers or nearby pedestrians.[163] A question that programmers of AI systems find difficult to answer (as do ordinary people, and ethicists) is "what decision should the car make that causes the ‘smallest’ damage to people's lives?" One proposed solution is the implementation of ethics bots in self-driving vehicles, which learn from user preferences to ultimately guide autonomous instruments in accordance with the owner's values and preferences.[164]

The ethics of automated vehicles are still being articulated, and may lead to controversy.[165] They may also require closer consideration of the variability, context-dependency, complexity and non-deterministic nature of human ethics. Different human drivers make various ethical decisions when driving, such as avoiding harm to themselves, or putting themselves at risk to protect others. These decisions range from rare extremes such as self-sacrifice or criminal negligence, to routine decisions good enough to keep the traffic flowing but bad enough to cause accidents, road rage and stress.

Human thought and reaction time may sometimes be too slow to detect the risk of an upcoming fatal crash, think through the ethical implications of the available options, or take an action to implement an ethical choice. Whether a particular automated vehicle's capacity to correctly detect an upcoming risk, analyse the options or choose a 'good' option from among bad choices would be as good or better than a particular human's may be difficult to predict or assess. This difficulty may be in part because the level of automated vehicle system understanding of the ethical issues at play in a given road scenario, sensed for an instant from out of a continuous stream of synthetic physical predictions of the near future, and dependent on layers of pattern recognition and situational intelligence, may be opaque to human inspection because of its origins in probabilistic machine learning rather than a simple, plain English 'human values' logic of parsable rules. The depth of understanding, predictive power and ethical sophistication needed will be hard to implement, and even harder to test or assess.

The scale of this challenge may have other effects. There may be few entities able to marshal the resources and AI capacity necessary to meet it, as well as the capital necessary to take an automated vehicle system to market and sustain it operationally for the life of a vehicle, and the legal and 'government affairs' capacity to deal with the potential for liability for a significant proportion of traffic accidents. This may have the effect of narrowing the number of different system opertors, and eroding the presently quite diverse global vehicle market down to a small number of system suppliers.

Potential changes for different industries[edit]

The traditional automobile is subject to changes that on the one hand are technology pushed, and on the other hand are demanded by the market. Where in the first case the technological discontinuity is fueled by the breakthrough technological innovation described, the second case is driven by the extent to which the market is used to adopting new technologies faster. In both cases the end of the era of incremental change was recognized, which is graphically displayed at the point where the transition is made to a new technology above. This point causes new entrants to the automotive industry to present themselves, which can be distinguished as mobility providers such as Uber and Lyft, as well as tech giants such as Google and nVidia. As new entrants to the industry will lead to a certain extent of uncertainty, due to the changing dynamics, the era of ferment will be the next phase in the Technology Life Cycle. With the entrance of tech giants, alliances between them and traditional car manufacturers are entered. This causes a variation in the innovation- and production process of autonomous vehicles. Besides that, the entrance of mobility providers has caused ambiguous user preferences. The increasing extent to which these providers are present in the industry is supported by the flattening curve on the ‘vehicles per capita’ graph. In addition, the rise of the sharing economy also contributes to this matter and allows forecasters to question whether private ownership of vehicles is still relevant when the dominant design is being selected.

Taxi industry[edit]

With the aforementioned ambiguous user preference regarding the private ownership of autonomous vehicles, it is possible that the current mobility provider trend will continue when the dominant design is selected. Established providers such as Uber and Lyft are already significantly present within the industry, and it is likely that new entrants will enter when business opportunities arise.[166]

Healthcare-, repair-, and insurance industry[edit]

With the increasing reliance of autonomous vehicles on interconnectivity and the availability of big data which is made usable in the form of real time maps, driving decisions can be made much faster in order to prevent collisions. Numbers made available by the US government state that 94% of the vehicle accidents is due to human failures. With that in mind, it is safe to say that there is a major implication for the healthcare industry. Numbers of the National Safety Council on killed and injured people on U.S. roads multiplied by the average costs of a single incident point out that an estimated 500-billion-dollar loss is accounted for the US healthcare industry only by the time autonomous vehicles are dominating the roads. On the positive side, these numbers will positively contribute to the widespread acceptance of autonomous vehicles, as well as the possibility to better allocate healthcare resources. As collisions are less likely to occur, and the risk for human errors is reduced significantly, the repair industry will face an enormous reduction of work that has to be done on the reparation of car frames. Meanwhile, as the generated data of the autonomous vehicle is likely to predict when certain replaceable parts are in need of maintenance, car owners and the repair industry will be able to preventively replace a part that will fail soon. This ‘Asset Efficiency Service’ would implicate a productivity gain for this business. As fewer collisions implicate less money spend on repair costs, the role of the insurance industry is likely to be altered as well. It can be expected that the increased safety of transport due to autonomous vehicles will lead to a decrease in payouts for the insurers, which is positive for the industry, but on the other hand fewer payouts implicate a demand drop for insurances in general. The insurance industry has to come up with new insurance models in the near future. An unexpected disadvantage would be a reduction in organs available for transplant.[167]

Rescue-, emergency- and military industry[edit]

The technique used in autonomous driving also ensures life savings in other industries. The implementation of autonomous vehicles within the rescue-, emergency- and military industry already leads to a decrease in death. Military personnel uses autonomous vehicles to reach dangerous and remote places on earth to deliver fuel, food and general supplies, and even rescue people. In addition, a future implication of adopting autonomous vehicles could lead to a reduction in deployed personnel, which will lead to a decrease in injuries, since the technological development allows AVs to become more and more autonomous. Also, another future implication is the reduction of emergency drivers when autonomous vehicles are deployed as fire trucks or ambulances. An advantage could be the use of real-time traffic information and other generated data to determine routes more efficiently than human drivers. The time savings can be invaluable in these situations.[168]

Interior design- and media-entertainment industry[edit]

For the interior design industry, there are exciting times ahead. The driver is decreasingly focused on the actual driving, this implies that the interior design- and media-entertainment industry has to reconsider what passengers of autonomous vehicles are doing when they are on the road. Vehicles need to be redesigned, and possibly even be prepared for multipurpose usage. In practice, it will show that travelers have more time for business and/or leisure. In both cases, this gives increasing opportunities for the media-entertainment industry to demand attention. Moreover, the advertisement business is able to provide location based ads without risking driver safety.[169]

Telecommunication and energy industry[edit]

As autonomous vehicles are producing enormous amounts of data that need to be transferred and analyzed, the upcoming 5G cellular network will play a pivotal role in doing so. In addition, the earlier mentioned entertainment industry is also highly dependent on this network to be active in this market segment. This implies higher revenues for the telecommunication industry. Since many autonomous vehicles are going to rely on electricity to operate, the demand for lithium batteries increases. This causes a necessary increase in supply of these type of batteries for the chemical industry. On the other hand, with the expected increase of battery powered (autonomous) vehicles, the petroleum industry is expected to undergo a decline in demand. As this implication depends on the adoption rate of autonomous vehicles, it is unsure to what extent this implication will disrupt this particular industry. This transition phase of oil to electricity allows companies to explore whether there are business opportunities for them in the new energy ecosystem.

Restaurant, hotel and airline industry[edit]

Driver interactions with the vehicle will be less common within the near future, and in the more distant future the responsibility will lie entirely with the vehicle. As indicated above, this will have implications for the entertainment- and interior design industry. For roadside restaurants, the implication will be that the need for customers to stop driving and enter the restaurant will vanish, and the autonomous vehicle will have a double function. Moreover, accompanied with the rise of disruptive platforms such as Airbnb that have shaken up the hotel industry, the fast increase of developments within the autonomous vehicle industry might cause another implication for their customer bases. In the more distant future, the implication for motels might be that a decrease in guests will occur, since autonomous vehicles could be redesigned as fully equipped bedrooms. The improvements regarding the interior of the vehicles might additionally have implications for the airline industry. In the case of relatively short-haul flights, waiting times at customs or the gate imply lost time and hassle for customers. With the improved convenience in future car travel, it is possible that customers might go for this option, causing a loss in customer bases for airline industry.[170]

Elder, disabled and childcare industry[edit]

Autonomous vehicles will have a severe impact on the mobility options of persons that are not able to drive a vehicle themselves. To remain socially engaged with society or even able to do groceries, the elderly people of today are depending on caretakers to drive them to these places. In addition to the perceived freedom of the elderly people of the future, the demand for human aides will decrease. When we also consider the increased health of the elderly, it is safe to state that care centers will experience a decrease in the number of clients. Not only elderly people face difficulties of their decreased physical abilities, also disabled people will perceive the benefits of autonomous vehicles in the near future, causing their dependency on caretakers to decrease. Both industries are largely depending on informal caregivers, who are mostly relatives of the persons in need. Since there is less of a reliance on their time, employers of informal caregivers or even governments will experience a decrease of costs allocated to this matter. Children and teens, who are not able to drive a vehicle themselves, are also benefiting of the introduction of autonomous cars. Daycares and schools are able to come up with automated pick up and drop off systems, causing a decrease of reliance on parents and childcare workers. The extent to which human actions are necessary for driving will vanish. Since current vehicles require human actions to some extent, the driving school industry will not be disrupted until the majority of autonomous transportation is switched to the emerged dominant design. It is plausible that in the distant future driving a vehicle will be considered as a luxury, which implies that the structure of the industry is based on new entrants and a new market.[171]


Mercedes automated cruise control system[edit]

In 1999, Mercedes introduced Distronic, the first radar-assisted ACC, on the Mercedes-Benz S-Class (W220)[172][173] and the CL-Class.[174] The Distronic system was able to adjust the vehicle speed automatically to the car in front in order to always maintain a safe distance to other cars on the road.

Mercedes-Benz S 450 4MATIC Coupe. The forward-facing Distronic sensors are usually placed behind the Mercedes-Benz logo and front grille.

In 2005, Mercedes refined the system (from this point called "Distronic Plus") with the Mercedes-Benz S-Class (W221) being the first car to receive the upgraded Distronic Plus system. Distronic Plus could now completely halt the car if necessary on E-Class and most Mercedes sedans. In an episode of Top Gear, Jeremy Clarkson demonstrated the effectiveness of the cruise control system in the S-class by coming to a complete halt from motorway speeds to a round-about and getting out, without touching the pedals.[175]

By 2017, Mercedes has vastly expanded its automated driving features on production cars: In addition to the standard Distronic Plus features such as an active brake assist, Mercedes now includes a steering pilot, a parking pilot, a cross-traffic assist system, night-vision cameras with automated danger warnings and braking assist (in case animals or pedestrians are on the road for example), and various other automated -driving features.[176][177][178][179][180] In 2016, Mercedes also introduced its Active Brake Assist 4, which was the first emergency braking assistant with pedestrian recognition on the market.[181]

Due to Mercedes' history of gradually implementing advancements of their automated driving features that have been extensively tested, not many crashes that have been caused by it are known. One of the known crashes dates back to 2005, when German news magazine "Stern" was testing Mercedes' old Distronic system. During the test, the system did not always manage to brake in time.[182] Ulrich Mellinghoff, then Head of Safety, NVH, and Testing at the Mercedes-Benz Technology Centre, stated that some of the tests failed due to the vehicle being tested in a metallic hall, which caused problems with the system's radar. Later iterations of the Distronic system have an upgraded radar and numerous other sensors, which are not susceptible to a metallic environment anymore.[182][183] In 2008, Mercedes conducted a study comparing the crash rates of their vehicles equipped with Distronic Plus and the vehicles without it, and concluded that those equipped with Distronic Plus have an around 20% lower crash rate.[184] In 2013, German Formula One driver Michael Schumacher was invited by Mercedes to try to crash a Mercedes C-Class vehicle, which was equipped with all safety features that Mercedes offered for its production vehicles at the time, which included the Active Blind Spot Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist, Brake Assist Plus, Collision Prevention Assist, Distronic Plus with Steering Assist, Pre-Safe Brake, and Stop&Go Pilot. Due to the safety features, Schumacher was unable to crash the vehicle in realistic scenarios.[185]

Tesla Autopilot[edit]

In mid‑October 2015, Tesla Motors rolled out version 7 of their software in the U.S. that included Tesla Autopilot capability.[186] On 9 January 2016, Tesla rolled out version 7.1 as an over-the-air update, adding a new "summon" feature that allows cars to self-park at parking locations without the driver in the car.[187] Tesla's automated driving features can be classified as somewhere between level 2 and level 3 under the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) five levels of vehicle automation. At this level the car can be automated but requires the full attention of the driver, who must be prepared to take control at a moment's notice.[188][189][190] Autopilot should be used only on limited-access highways, and sometimes it will fail to detect lane markings and disengage itself. In urban driving the system will not read traffic signals or obey stop signs. The system also does not detect pedestrians or cyclists.[191]

Tesla Model S Autopilot system in use in July 2016; it was only suitable for limited-access highways, not for urban driving. Among other limitations, it could not detect pedestrians or cyclists.[191]

On 20 January 2016, the first known fatal crash of a Tesla with Autopilot occurred in China's Hubei province. According to China's news channel, this marked "China's first accidental death due to Tesla's automatic driving (system)." Initially, Tesla pointed out that the vehicle was so badly damaged from the impact that their recorder was not able to conclusively prove that the car had been on Autopilot at the time; however, pointed out that other factors, such as the car's absolute failure to take any evasive actions prior to the high speed crash, and the driver's otherwise good driving record, seemed to indicate a strong likelihood that the car was on Autopilot at the time. A similar fatal crash occurred four months later in Florida.[192][193] In 2018, in a subsequent civil suit between the father of the driver killed and Tesla, Tesla did not deny that the car had been on Autopilot at the time of the accident, and sent evidence to the victim's father documenting that fact.[194]

The second known fatal accident involving a vehicle being driven by itself took place in Williston, Florida on 7 May 2016 while a Tesla Model S electric car was engaged in Autopilot mode. The occupant was killed in a crash with an 18-wheel tractor-trailer. On 28 June 2016 the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened a formal investigation into the accident working with the Florida Highway Patrol. According to the NHTSA, preliminary reports indicate the crash occurred when the tractor-trailer made a left turn in front of the Tesla at an intersection on a non-controlled access highway, and the car failed to apply the brakes. The car continued to travel after passing under the truck's trailer.[195][196] The NHTSA's preliminary evaluation was opened to examine the design and performance of any automated driving systems in use at the time of the crash, which involved a population of an estimated 25,000 Model S cars.[197] On 8 July 2016, the NHTSA requested Tesla Motors provide the agency detailed information about the design, operation and testing of its Autopilot technology. The agency also requested details of all design changes and updates to Autopilot since its introduction, and Tesla's planned updates schedule for the next four months.[198]

According to Tesla, "neither autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor-trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied." The car attempted to drive full speed under the trailer, "with the bottom of the trailer impacting the windshield of the Model S." Tesla also claimed that this was Tesla's first known autopilot death in over 130 million miles (210 million kilometers) driven by its customers with Autopilot engaged, however by this statement, Tesla was apparently refusing to acknowledge claims that the January 2016 fatality in Hubei China had also been the result of an autopilot system error. According to Tesla there is a fatality every 94 million miles (151 million kilometers) among all type of vehicles in the U.S.[195][196][199] However, this number also includes fatalities of the crashes, for instance, of motorcycle drivers with pedestrians.[200][201]

In July 2016, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) opened a formal investigation into the fatal accident while the Autopilot was engaged. The NTSB is an investigative body that has the power to make only policy recommendations. An agency spokesman said "It's worth taking a look and seeing what we can learn from that event, so that as that automation is more widely introduced we can do it in the safest way possible."[202] In January 2017, the NTSB released the report that concluded Tesla was not at fault; the investigation revealed that for Tesla cars, the crash rate dropped by 40 percent after Autopilot was installed.[203]

According to Tesla, starting 19 October 2016, all Tesla cars are built with hardware to allow full self-driving capability at the highest safety level (SAE Level 5).[204] The hardware includes eight surround cameras and twelve ultrasonic sensors, in addition to the forward-facing radar with enhanced processing capabilities.[205] The system will operate in "shadow mode" (processing without taking action) and send data back to Tesla to improve its abilities until the software is ready for deployment via over-the-air upgrades.[206] After the required testing, Tesla hopes to enable full self-driving by the end of 2019 under certain conditions.


Google's in-house automated car.

Waymo originated as a self-driving car project within Google. In August 2012, Google announced that their vehicles had completed over 300,000 automated-driving miles (500,000 km) accident-free, typically involving about a dozen cars on the road at any given time, and that they were starting to test with single drivers instead of in pairs.[207] In late-May 2014, Google revealed a new prototype that had no steering wheel, gas pedal, or brake pedal, and was fully automated .[208] As of March 2016, Google had test-driven their fleet in automated mode a total of 1,500,000 mi (2,400,000 km).[209] In December 2016, Google Corporation announced that its technology would be spun off to a new company called Waymo, with both Google and Waymo becoming subsidiaries of a new parent company called Alphabet.[210][211]

According to Google's accident reports as of early 2016, their test cars had been involved in 14 collisions, of which other drivers were at fault 13 times, although in 2016 the car's software caused a crash.[212]

In June 2015, Brin confirmed that 12 vehicles had suffered collisions as of that date. Eight involved rear-end collisions at a stop sign or traffic light, two in which the vehicle was side-swiped by another driver, one in which another driver rolled through a stop sign, and one where a Google employee was controlling the car manually.[213] In July 2015, three Google employees suffered minor injuries when their vehicle was rear-ended by a car whose driver failed to brake at a traffic light. This was the first time that a collision resulted in injuries.[214] On 14 February 2016 a Google vehicle attempted to avoid sandbags blocking its path. During the maneuver it struck a bus. Google stated, "In this case, we clearly bear some responsibility, because if our car hadn't moved there wouldn't have been a collision."[215][216] Google characterized the crash as a misunderstanding and a learning experience. No injuries were reported in the crash.[212]


In March 2017, an Uber test vehicle was involved in a crash in Tempe, Arizona when another car failed to yield, flipping the Uber vehicle. There were no injuries in the accident.[217]

By 22 December 2017, Uber had completed 2 million miles (3.2 million kilometers) in automated mode.[218]

On 18 March 2018, Elaine Herzberg became the first pedestrian to be killed by a self-driving car in the United States after being hit by an Uber vehicle, also in Tempe. Herzberg was crossing outside of a crosswalk, approximately 400 feet from an intersection.[219] The causes of the accidents include the following: nighttime, low visibility, pedestrian crossing from a shadowed portion of road, crossing a road that had high speed limit, and not checking for cars before crossing (blindly crossing street at night). This marks the first time an individual outside an auto-piloted car is known to have been killed by such a car. The first death of an essentially uninvolved third party is likely to raise new questions and concerns about the safety of automated cars in general.[220] Some experts say a human driver could have avoided the fatal crash.[221] Arizona Governor Doug Ducey later suspended the company's ability to test and operate its automated cars on public roadways citing an "unquestionable failure" of the expectation that Uber make public safety its top priority.[222] Uber has pulled out of all self-driving-car testing in California as a result of the accident.[223] On 24 May 2018 the National Transport Safety Board issued a preliminary report.[224]

Navya automated bus driving system[edit]

On 9 November 2017, a Navya automated self-driving bus with passengers was involved in a crash with a truck. The truck was found to be at fault of the crash, reversing into the stationary automated bus. The automated bus did not take evasive actions or apply defensive driving such as flash headlights, sound the horn, or as one passenger commented "The shuttle didn't have the ability to move back. The shuttle just stayed still."[225]

Policy implications[edit]

Urban planning[edit]

According to a Wonkblog reporter, if fully automated cars become commercially available, they have the potential to be a disruptive innovation with major implications for society. The likelihood of widespread adoption is still unclear, but if they are used on a wide scale, policy makers face a number of unresolved questions about their effects.[143]

One fundamental question is about their effect on travel behavior. Some people believe that they will increase car ownership and car use because it will become easier to use them and they will ultimately be more useful.[143] This may in turn encourage urban sprawl and ultimately total private vehicle use. Others argue that it will be easier to share cars and that this will thus discourage outright ownership and decrease total usage, and make cars more efficient forms of transportation in relation to the present situation.[226]

Policy-makers will have to take a new look at how infrastructure is to be built and how money will be allotted to build for automated vehicles. The need for traffic signals could potentially be reduced with the adoption of smart highways.[227] Due to smart highways and with the assistance of smart technological advances implemented by policy change, the dependence on oil imports may be reduced because of less time being spent on the road by individual cars which could have an effect on policy regarding energy.[228] On the other hand, automated vehicles could increase the overall number of cars on the road which could lead to a greater dependence on oil imports if smart systems are not enough to curtail the impact of more vehicles.[229] However, due to the uncertainty of the future of automated vehicles, policy makers may want to plan effectively by implementing infrastructure improvements that can be beneficial to both human drivers and automated vehicles.[230] Caution needs to be taken in acknowledgment to public transportation and that the use may be greatly reduced if automated vehicles are catered to through policy reform of infrastructure with this resulting in job loss and increased unemployment.[231]

Other disruptive effects will come from the use of automated vehicles to carry goods. Self-driving vans have the potential to make home deliveries significantly cheaper, transforming retail commerce and possibly making hypermarkets and supermarkets redundant. As of right now the U.S. Government defines automation into six levels, starting at level zero which means the human driver does everything and ending with level five, the automated system performs all the driving tasks. Also under the current law, manufacturers bear all the responsibility to self-certify vehicles for use on public roads. This means that currently as long as the vehicle is compliant within the regulatory framework, there are no specific federal legal barriers to a highly automated vehicle being offered for sale. Iyad Rahwan, an associate professor in the MIT Media lab said, "Most people want to live in a world where cars will minimize casualties, but everyone wants their own car to protect them at all costs." Furthermore, industry standards and best practice are still needed in systems before they can be considered reasonably safe under real-world conditions.[232]


The 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic, subscribed to by over 70 countries worldwide, establishes principles to govern traffic laws. One of the fundamental principles of the Convention has been the concept that a driver is always fully in control and responsible for the behavior of a vehicle in traffic.[233] The progress of technology that assists and takes over the functions of the driver is undermining this principle, implying that much of the groundwork must be rewritten.

Legal status in the United States[edit]

U.S. states that allow testing of driverless cars on public roads

In the United States, a non-signatory country to the Vienna Convention, state vehicle codes generally do not envisage — but do not necessarily prohibit — highly automated vehicles.[234][235] To clarify the legal status of and otherwise regulate such vehicles, several states have enacted or are considering specific laws.[236] In 2016, 7 states (Nevada, California, Florida, Michigan, Hawaii, Washington, and Tennessee), along with the District of Columbia, have enacted laws for automated vehicles. Incidents such as the first fatal accident by Tesla's Autopilot system have led to discussion about revising laws and standards for automated cars.

In September 2016, the US National Economic Council and Department of Transportation released federal standards that describe how automated vehicles should react if their technology fails, how to protect passenger privacy, and how riders should be protected in the event of an accident. The new federal guidelines are meant to avoid a patchwork of state laws, while avoiding being so overbearing as to stifle innovation.[237]

In June 2011, the Nevada Legislature passed a law to authorize the use of automated cars. Nevada thus became the first jurisdiction in the world where automated vehicles might be legally operated on public roads. According to the law, the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles (NDMV) is responsible for setting safety and performance standards and the agency is responsible for designating areas where automated cars may be tested.[238][239][240] This legislation was supported by Google in an effort to legally conduct further testing of its Google driverless car.[241] The Nevada law defines an automated vehicle to be "a motor vehicle that uses artificial intelligence, sensors and global positioning system coordinates to drive itself without the active intervention of a human operator." The law also acknowledges that the operator will not need to pay attention while the car is operating itself. Google had further lobbied for an exemption from a ban on distracted driving to permit occupants to send text messages while sitting behind the wheel, but this did not become law.[241][242][243] Furthermore, Nevada's regulations require a person behind the wheel and one in the passenger's seat during tests.[244]

In April 2012, Florida became the second state to allow the testing of automated cars on public roads,[245] and California became the third when Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill into law at Google Headquarters in Mountain View.[246] In December 2013, Michigan became the fourth state to allow testing of driverless cars on public roads.[247] In July 2014, the city of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho adopted a robotics ordinance that includes provisions to allow for self-driving cars.[248]

A Toyota Prius modified by Google to operate as a driverless car.

On 19 February 2016, Assembly Bill No. 2866 was introduced in California that would allow automated vehicles to operate on the road, including those without a driver, steering wheel, accelerator pedal, or brake pedal. The Bill states the Department of Motor Vehicles would need to comply with these regulations by 1 July 2018 for these rules to take effect. This bill has yet to pass the house of origin.[249]

In September 2016, the U.S. Department of Transportation released its Federal Automated Vehicles Policy,[250] and California published discussions on the subject in October 2016.[251]

In December 2016, the California Department of Motor Vehicles ordered Uber to remove its self-driving vehicles from the road in response to two red-light violations. Uber immediately blamed the violations on "human-error", and has suspended the drivers.[252]

Legislation in Europe[edit]

In 2013, the government of the United Kingdom permitted the testing of automated cars on public roads.[253] Before this, all testing of robotic vehicles in the UK had been conducted on private property.[253]

In 2014, the Government of France announced that testing of automated cars on public roads would be allowed in 2015. 2000 km of road would be opened through the national territory, especially in Bordeaux, in Isère, Île-de-France and Strasbourg. At the 2015 ITS World Congress, a conference dedicated to intelligent transport systems, the very first demonstration of automated vehicles on open road in France was carried out in Bordeaux in early October 2015.[254]

In 2015, a preemptive lawsuit against various automobile companies such as GM, Ford, and Toyota accused them of "Hawking vehicles that are vulnerable to hackers who could hypothetically wrest control of essential functions such as brakes and steering."[255]

In spring of 2015, the Federal Department of Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications in Switzerland (UVEK) allowed Swisscom to test a driverless Volkswagen Passat on the streets of Zurich.[256]

As of April 2017, it is possible to conduct public road tests for development vehicles in Hungary, furthermore the construction  of a closed test track, the Zala Zone test track,[257] suitable for testing highly automated functions is also under way near the city of Zalaegerszeg.[258]

Legislation in Asia[edit]

In 2016, the Singapore Land Transit Authority in partnership with UK automotive supplier Delphi Automotive Plc will launch preparations for a test run of a fleet of automated taxis for an on-demand automated cab service to take effect in 2017.[259]


Self-driving car liability is a developing area of law and policy that will determine who is liable when an automated car causes physical damage to persons, or breaks road rules.[260] When automated cars shift the control of driving from humans to automated car technology, there may be a need for existing liability laws to evolve in order to fairly identify the parties responsible for damage and injury, and to address the potential for conflicts of interest between human occupants, system operator, insurers, and the public purse.[109] Increases in the use of automated car technologies (e.g. advanced driver-assistance systems) may prompt incremental shifts in this responsibility for driving. It is claimed by proponents to have potential to affect the frequency of road accidents, although it is difficult to assess this claim in the absence of data from substantial actual use.[261] If there was a dramatic improvement in safety, the operators may seek to project their liability for the remaining accidents onto others as part of their reward for the improvement. However, there is no obvious reason why they should escape liability if any such effects were found to be modest or nonexistent, since part of the purpose of such liability is to give an incentive to the party controlling something to do whatever is necessary to avoid it causing harm. Potential users may be reluctant to trust an operator if it seeks to pass its normal liability on to others.

In any case, a well-advised person who is not controlling a car at all (Level 5) would be understandably reluctant to accept liability for something out of their control. And when there is some degree of sharing control possible (Level 3 or 4), a well-advised person would be concerned that the vehicle might try to pass back control at the last seconds before an accident, to pass responsibility and liability back too, but in circumstances where the potential driver has no better prospects of avoiding the crash than the vehicle, since they have not necessarily been paying close attention, and if it is too hard for the very smart car it might be too hard for a human. Since operators, especially those familiar with trying to ignore existing legal obligations (under a motto like 'seek forgiveness, not permission'), such as Waymo or Uber, could be normally expected to try to avoid responsibility to the maximum degree possible, there is potential for attempt to let the operators evade being held liable for accidents while they are in control.

As higher levels of automation are commercially introduced (level 3 and 4), the insurance industry may see a greater proportion of commercial and product liability lines while personal automobile insurance shrinks.[262]

Vehicular communication systems[edit]

Individual vehicles may benefit from information obtained from other vehicles in the vicinity, especially information relating to traffic congestion and safety hazards. Vehicular communication systems use vehicles and roadside units as the communicating nodes in a peer-to-peer network, providing each other with information. As a cooperative approach, vehicular communication systems can allow all cooperating vehicles to be more effective. According to a 2010 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, vehicular communication systems could help avoid up to 79 percent of all traffic accidents.[263]

In 2012, computer scientists at the University of Texas in Austin began developing smart intersections designed for automated cars. The intersections will have no traffic lights and no stop signs, instead using computer programs that will communicate directly with each car on the road.[264]

An efficient intersection management technique called Crossroads was proposed in 2017 that is robust to network delay of V2I communication and Worst-case Execution time of the intersection manager.[265]

Among connected cars, an unconnected one is the weakest link and will be increasingly banned from busy high-speed roads, predicted a Helsinki think tank in January 2016.[266]

Public opinion surveys[edit]

In a 2011 online survey of 2,006 US and UK consumers by Accenture, 49% said they would be comfortable using a "driverless car".[267]

A 2012 survey of 17,400 vehicle owners by J.D. Power and Associates found 37% initially said they would be interested in purchasing a "fully autonomous car". However, that figure dropped to 20% if told the technology would cost $3,000 more.[268]

In a 2012 survey of about 1,000 German drivers by automotive researcher Puls, 22% of the respondents had a positive attitude towards these cars, 10% were undecided, 44% were skeptical and 24% were hostile.[269]

A 2013 survey of 1,500 consumers across 10 countries by Cisco Systems found 57% "stated they would be likely to ride in a car controlled entirely by technology that does not require a human driver", with Brazil, India and China the most willing to trust automated technology.[270]

In a 2014 US telephone survey by, over three-quarters of licensed drivers said they would at least consider buying a self-driving car, rising to 86% if car insurance were cheaper. 31.7% said they would not continue to drive once an automated car was available instead.[271]

In a February 2015 survey of top auto journalists, 46% predict that either Tesla or Daimler will be the first to the market with a fully autonomous vehicle, while (at 38%) Daimler is predicted to be the most functional, safe, and in-demand autonomous vehicle.[272]

In 2015 a questionnaire survey by Delft University of Technology explored the opinion of 5,000 people from 109 countries on automated driving. Results showed that respondents, on average, found manual driving the most enjoyable mode of driving. 22% of the respondents did not want to spend any money for a fully automated driving system. Respondents were found to be most concerned about software hacking/misuse, and were also concerned about legal issues and safety. Finally, respondents from more developed countries (in terms of lower accident statistics, higher education, and higher income) were less comfortable with their vehicle transmitting data.[273] The survey also gave results on potential consumer opinion on interest of purchasing an automated car, stating that 37% of surveyed current owners were either "definitely" or "probably" interested in purchasing an automated car.[273]

In 2016, a survey in Germany examined the opinion of 1,603 people, who were representative in terms of age, gender, and education for the German population, towards partially, highly, and fully automated cars. Results showed that men and women differ in their willingness to use them. Men felt less anxiety and more joy towards automated cars, whereas women showed the exact opposite. The gender difference towards anxiety was especially pronounced between young men and women but decreased with participants' age.[274]

In 2016, a PwC survey, in the United States, showing the opinion of 1,584 people, highlights that "66 percent of respondents said they think autonomous cars are probably smarter than the average human driver". People are still worried about safety and mostly the fact of having the car hacked. Nevertheless, only 13% of the interviewees see no advantages in this new kind of cars.[275]

A Pew Research Center survey of 4,135 U.S. adults conducted 1–15 May 2017 finds that many Americans anticipate significant impacts from various automation technologies in the course of their lifetimes—from the widespread adoption of automated vehicles to the replacement of entire job categories with robot workers.[276]

Moral issues[edit]

With the emergence of automated automobiles various ethical issues arise. While the introduction of automated vehicles to the mass market is said to be inevitable due to an (untestable) potential for reduction of crashes by "up to" 90%[277] and their potential greater accessibility to disabled, elderly, and young passengers, a range of ethical issues have not been fully addressed. Those include, but are not limited to: the moral, financial, and criminal responsibility for crashes and breaches of law; the decisions a car is to make right before a (fatal) crash; privacy issues including potential for mass surveillance; potential for massive job losses and unemployment among drivers; de-skilling and loss of independence by vehicle users; exposure to hacking and malware; and the further concentration of market and data power in the hands of a few global conglomerates capable of consolidating AI capacity, and of lobbying governments to facilitate the shift of liability onto others and their potential destruction of existing occupations and industries.

There are different opinions on who should be held liable in case of a crash, especially with people being hurt. Many experts see the car manufacturers themselves responsible for those crashes that occur due to a technical malfunction or misconstruction.[278] Besides the fact that the car manufacturer would be the source of the problem in a situation where a car crashes due to a technical issue, there is another important reason why car manufacturers could be held responsible: it would encourage them to innovate and heavily invest into fixing those issues, not only due to protection of the brand image, but also due to financial and criminal consequences. However, there are also voices [who?] that argue those using or owning the vehicle should be held responsible since they know the risks involved in using such a vehicle. Experts [who?] suggest introducing a tax or insurances that would protect owners and users of automated vehicles of claims made by victims of an accident.[278] Other possible parties that can be held responsible in case of a technical failure include software engineers that programmed the code for the automated operation of the vehicles, and suppliers of components of the AV.[279]

Taking aside the question of legal liability and moral responsibility, the question arises how automated vehicles should be programmed to behave in an emergency situation where either passengers or other traffic participants like: pedestrians, bicyclists and other drivers are endangered. A moral dilemma that a software engineer or car manufacturer might face in programming the operating software is described in an ethical thought experiment, the trolley problem: a conductor of a trolley has the choice of staying on the planned track and running over 5 people, or turn the trolley onto a track where it would kill only one person, assuming there is no traffic on it.[280] When a self-driving car is in following scenario: it's driving with passengers and suddenly a person appears in its way. The car has to decide between the two options, either to run the person over or to avoid hitting the person by swerving into a wall, killing the passengers.[281] There are two main considerations that need to be addressed. First, what moral basis would be used by an automated vehicle to make decisions? Second, how could those be translated into software code? Researchers have suggested, in particular, two ethical theories to be applicable to the behavior of automated vehicles in cases of emergency: deontology and utilitarianism.[282] Asimov's three laws of robotics are a typical example of deontological ethics. The theory suggests that an automated car needs to follow strict written-out rules that it needs to follow in any situation. Utilitarianism suggests the idea that any decision must be made based on the goal to maximize utility. This needs a definition of utility which could be maximizing the number of people surviving in a crash. Critics suggest that automated vehicles should adapt a mix of multiple theories to be able to respond morally right in the instance of a crash.[282]

(Many 'Trolley' discussions skip over the practical problems of how a probabilistic machine learning vehicle AI could be sophisticated enough to understand that a deep problem of moral philosophy is presenting itself from instant to instant while using a dynamic projection into the near future, what sort of moral problem it actually would be if any, what the relevant weightings in human value terms should be given to all the other humans involved who will be probably unreliably identified, and how reliably it can assess the probable outcomes. These practical difficulties, and those around testing and assessment of solutions to them, may present as much of a challenge as the theoretical abstractions.)

Privacy-related issues arise mainly from the interconnectivity of automated cars, making it just another mobile device that can gather any information about an individual. This information gathering ranges from tracking of the routes taken, voice recording, video recording, preferences in media that is consumed in the car, behavioral patterns, to many more streams of information.[283][284] The data and communications infrastructure needed to support these vehicles may also be capable of surveillance, especially if coupled to other data sets and advanced analytics.

The implementation of automated vehicles to the mass market might cost up to 5 million jobs in the US alone, making up almost 3% of the workforce.[285] Those jobs include drivers of taxis, buses, vans, trucks, and e-hailing vehicles. Many industries, such as the auto insurance industry are indirectly affected. This industry alone generates an annual revenue of about $220 billions, supporting 277,000 jobs.[286] To put this into perspective – this is about the number of mechanical engineering jobs.[287] The potential loss of a majority of those jobs will have a tremendous impact on those individuals involved.[288] Both India and China have placed bans on automated cars with the former citing protection of jobs.[citation needed]

Anticipated launch of cars[edit]

In December 2015, Tesla CEO Elon Musk predicted that a completely automated car would be introduced by the end of 2018;[289] in December 2017, he announced that it would take another two years to launch a fully self-driving Tesla onto the market.[290]

BMW's all-electric automated car, called iNext, is expected to be ready by 2021; Toyota's first self-driving car is due to hit the market in 2020, as is the driverless car being developed by Nissan.[291]

In fiction[edit]

Minority Report's Lexus 2054 on display in Paris in October 2002.

In film[edit]

The automated and occasionally sentient self-driving car story has earned its place in both literary science fiction and pop sci-fi.[292]

  • A VW Beetle named Dudu features in the 1971 to 1978 German Superbug (film series) of movies similar to Disney's Herbie, but with an electronic brain. (Herbie, also a Beetle, was depicted as an anthropomorphic car with its own spirit.)
  • In the film Batman (1989), starring Michael Keaton, the Batmobile is shown to be able to drive to Batman's current location with some navigation commands from Batman and possibly some automation.
  • The film Total Recall (1990), starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, features taxis called Johnny Cabs controlled by artificial intelligence in the car or the android occupants.
  • The film Demolition Man (1993), starring Sylvester Stallone and set in 2032, features vehicles that can be self-driven or commanded to "Auto Mode" where a voice-controlled computer operates the vehicle.
  • The film Timecop (1994), starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, set in 2004 and 1994, has automated cars.
  • Another Arnold Schwarzenegger movie, The 6th Day (2000), features an automated car commanded by Michael Rapaport.
  • The film Minority Report (2002), set in Washington, D.C. in 2054, features an extended chase sequence involving automated cars. The vehicle of protagonist John Anderton is transporting him when its systems are overridden by police in an attempt to bring him into custody.
  • The film, The Incredibles (2004), Mr. Incredible makes his car automated for him while it changes him into his supersuit when driving to save a cat from a tree.
I, Robot's Audi RSQ at the CeBIT expo in March 2005.
  • The film Eagle Eye (2008) Shia LaBeouf and Michelle Monaghan are driven around in a Porsche Cayenne that is controlled by ARIIA ( a giant supercomputer ).
  • The film I, Robot (2004), set in Chicago in 2035, features automated vehicles driving on highways, allowing the car to travel safer at higher speeds than if manually controlled. The option to manually operate the vehicles is available.
  • The film Logan set in 2029, features fully automated trucks.
  • Blade Runner 2049 (2017) opens with LAPD Replicant cop K waking up in his 3-wheeled automated flying vehicle (featuring a separable surveillance roof drone) on approach to a protein farm in northern California.
  • Geostorm, set in 2022, features a self-driving taxi stolen by protagonists Max Lawson and Sarah Wilson to protect the President from mercenaries and a superstorm.

In literature[edit]

Intelligent or self-driving cars are a common theme in science fiction literature. Examples include:

In television[edit]

  • "CSI: Cyber" Season 2, episode 6, Gone in 60 Seconds, features three seemingly normal customized vehicles, a 2009 Nissan Fairlady Z Roadster, a BMW M3 E90 and a Cadillac CTS-V, and one stock luxury BMW 7 Series, being remote-controlled by a computer hacker.
  • "Handicar", season 18, episode 4 of 2014 TV series South Park features a Japanese automated car that takes part in the Wacky Races-style car race.
  • KITT and KARR, the Pontiac Firebird Trans-Ams in the 1982 TV series Knight Rider, were sentient and autonomous. The KITT and KARR based Ford Mustangs from Knight Rider were also sentient and autonomous, like their Firebird counterparts.
  • "Driven", series 4 episode 11 of the 2003 TV series NCIS features a robotic vehicle named "Otto", part of a high-level project of the Department of Defense, which causes the death of a Navy Lieutenant, and then later almost kills Abby.
  • The TV series "Viper" features a silver/grey armored assault vehicle, called The Defender, which masquerades as a flame-red 1992 Dodge Viper RT/10 and later as a 1998 cobalt blue Dodge Viper GTS. The vehicle's sophisticated computer systems allow it to be controlled via remote on some occasions.
  • "Black Mirror" episode "Hated in the Nation" briefly features a self-driving SUV with a touchscreen interface on the inside.
  • Bull has a show discussing the effectiveness and safety of self-driving cars in an episode call E.J.[294]

See also[edit]


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