I doubt we will ever see self driving cars on our roads en masse. There have been a number of accidents involving the Google self driving car, not usually a direct fault of the car though, perhaps more its un-human like behaviour. Here are a couple of instances. One involves entering and merging on a freeway. Australians used to be quite poor at this skill but I think it is one skill that has improved over the past couple of decades. Thank goodness something has improved as every other driving skill seems to have gone backwards.
So, heavy traffic on a freeway. The driver entering the freeway speeds up to the speed of the traffic on the freeway, indicates and someone will drop back a little or change lanes to let them in. Usually! The last thing you want to do is slam on the brakes because there is no obvious gap but that is what the Google car did. It could not see a gap to merge into, so it simply came to abruptly stop with probably bang, bang, bang behind it.
Another problem, a road with a single lane in each direction. A cyclist is riding along and there is insufficient room to pass the cyclist without moving a little bit into the opposing lane, which is what drivers would normally do once there was nothing coming the other way. Not so the Google car. It will not cross the white centre line so it just sits safely behind the cyclist. Cyclists may well like this aspect of the Google car but as the line cars grew behind the Google car, drivers would become very frustrated and start taking risks.
While we won't see self driving cars for a long time, well not cars as we know them, what we will see and are already seeing is lots more driver assistance. There is already braking radar, lane drift warnings and many other features to help drivers. There will be more and more of this type of driver assistance and it will become very sophisticated.
I recently heard of a car in Sydney that could read speed limit signs and adjust its speed accordingly. Sounds good? Until it came up behind a Sydney bus with the warning to pass the bus at 40 km/h if the lights are flashing. The car read the forty as a normal speed limit sign.
Sorry, this is a gratuitous photo of an old Sydney double decker. I'll try again.
There you go. Got it right now.