Are Self-Driving Cars the Future?

Interior of a self driving car showing the steering wheel, GPS,
Interior of a self-driving car

Self-driving cars, otherwise referred to as autonomous vehicles, have become a topic of immense interest and debate in recent years. With the rapid advancements in technology, machine learning, and artificial intelligence, the idea of a world where driverless vehicles roam the streets is no longer just a distant dream. Instead, it is quickly becoming a reality that could revolutionize how we live, work, and even travel. According to Statista, the worldwide global autonomous car market was valued at more than 27 billion USD in 2021 and is expected to reach 62 billion USD in 2026.

This article addresses the question of self-driven cars as the future to look forward to, including their potential impact on society.

Quick Answer
Self-driving cars are the future because, according to McKinsey research, autonomous driving is poised to generate up to $400 billion in revenue by 2035. Moreover, autonomous vehicles could save up to 29,447 lives every year by minimizing traffic accidents.

Brief History and Development of Self-Driving Cars

The general concept of self-driven vehicles can be traced to the 1920s, more than a century ago. This was when radio-control automobiles were introduced to the automotive universe. This concept started showing a semblance of reality in the 1980s. However, even then, self-driving car technology companies did not exist until much later.

One of the first initiatives to develop self-driving vehicles was the Navlab project at Carnegie Mellon University. Navlab 1 became the first autonomous car to navigate paved public roads in 1984.

During the ’80s and ’90s, researchers started developing self-driven vehicles solely for military use. The United States military used the first set of autonomous vehicles in the Gulf War of 1991. Car manufacturers – such as BMW, Mercedes Benz, General Motors, etc. – pitched in during the following years and started developing unique driverless prototypes.

But by the early 21st century, the technological development of auto-driving cars was accelerated, thanks to the advent of artificial intelligence, machine learning algorithms, and modern computing power. As a result, tech giants like Tesla, Google, and Uber began to invest heavily in this remarkable technology. Google even launched its autonomous car project in 2009.

Nevada is officially the first state in the United States to permit the operation of self-driving cars on public roads by approving Mercedes Benz’s Level 3 automated driving. This event occurred in 2012, with California following in Nevada’s footsteps in 2014. Since then, many other states in the United States and other countries have legalized the production of self-driven cars by autonomous vehicle companies.

Driverless vehicles have become even more common on public roads as technology improves worldwide. As a result, several major car makers include exceptional autonomous features in their newer vehicle models, including Uber driverless cars.

Nevertheless, a few setbacks have slowed down the rapid proliferation of self-driven cars, including regulatory challenges and high-profile accidents involving autonomous vehicles.

But despite these challenges or setbacks, self-driving car technology companies continue producing this unique automobile fleet of vehicles. Automotive specialists have predicted that the coming decades will welcome a massive wave of self-driving vehicles on major public roads.

How Self-Driving Cars Work

Self-driving cars don’t need a human driver to pedal or steer during operation. Even though the technology exists, fully autonomous self-driving vehicles are not currently on the road. Tesla is perhaps the only car-making company whose vehicles can drive themselves in a few situations. But these vehicles still require human drivers to pay attention to the road.

Nevertheless, the dream of seeing several fleets of autonomous vehicles delivering users to their destinations will soon be a reality. Nearly everyone in the mobility community believes autonomous driving will broadly transform transportation.

Self-driving cars work by using a combination of sensors, GPS/Localization, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and control systems. They also use cameras, radar, and ultrasonic sensors to detect and identify objects.

The Adoption of Self Driving Cars

As of 2019, over 1,400 autonomous vehicles, such as trucks, cars, and other automobiles, were in testing mode in over 80 self-driving car technology companies spread across 36 states within the United States, including Washington, DC.

Due to the rapid technological development of self-driving cars, China is set to become the world’s most prominent market for driverless vehicles. A forecast showsthat autonomous vehicles will constitute up to 66 percent of the passenger kilometers heavily traveled in 2040.

Technologies Used in Self-Driving Cars

Several technology-heavy movies depict how the future looks with self-driving cars. These autonomous vehicles use a wide range of cutting-edge technology to make driverless runs a possibility.

Some of the key technologies you will find in self-driven vehicles include:

Artificial Intelligence

AI or artificial intelligence is part of the technology self-driving cars utilize to process every piece of data garnered by the sensors. The AI then makes swift decisions about how to operate the vehicles. Surprisingly, many drivers are worried AI will take over their jobs.

AI works in autonomous vehicles to detect road signs and markings and predict the movements of other road users, including pedestrians, etc.

Control Systems

Self-driving vehicles use cutting-edge control systems – such as drive-by-wire technology – to operate the automobile’s acceleration systems, steering, braking, etc.


Autonomous vehicles rely heavily on sensors for optimal performance. Some of the sensors you will find on self-driving cars include:

  • Radar
  • Cameras
  • Ultrasonic sensors
  • Gyroscopes
  • Lidar (light detection and ranging), etc.

The primary job of these sensors is to work together in detecting or identifying objects near the self-driving car. In addition, the sensors create 3D maps of the driverless vehicle’s surroundings, including a 360-degree view of every pedestrian traffic signal, vehicle, etc.

This information is used by AI installed in the self-driving vehicle to make quality driving decisions.


Self-driving cars use GPS and other sensors, such as gyroscopes, accelerometers, etc., to access location data, making it possible to navigate to their destination. This occurs via a process called ‘localization.’


Autonomous vehicles use high-definition maps to have an excellent understanding of the roads they are driving on. These innovative maps provide solid information such as:

  • Traffic signs
  • Lane markings
  • Road layout, etc.

This includes many other features that help a self-driven vehicle navigate any environment.

Advantages of Self-Driving Cars

In discussing the future of cars that drive themselves, it is vital to know self-driving cars pros and cons.

Therefore, here are some of the benefits of self-driving cars:

Improved Safety

Cars that drive themselves significantly reduce human error, the #1 cause of accidents on public roads. This is possible because driverless vehicles use several combinations of high-tech equipment such as cameras, artificial intelligence, and sensors to make split-second, high-quality decisions.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that up to 94 percent of severe road accidents are due to human error. But self-driving vehicles are set to eliminate this.

Reduced Traffic Congestion

Self-driving vehicles can improve traffic flow by minimizing the number of road accidents. In addition, they can optimize speeds and routing, giving room for closer vehicle spacing.

Increased Mobility for People Who Cannot Drive

Some people don’t know how to drive due to health issues or personal reasons. Driverless vehicles improve mobility for such individuals, increasing their independence.

Lower Carbon Emissions

Autonomous vehicles are programmed to effectively optimize fuel efficiency. This optimization helps improve air quality by minimizing carbon emissions. As a result, the environmental impact of transportation is also significantly reduced.

Challenges Facing Self-Driving Cars

According to a report by Statista, the main barriers hindering the global penetration of self driving vehicles are car security against hackers, system security against hackers and autonomous cars becoming disoriented by unexpected situations.

In addition, here are some detailed challenges to overcome:

Technological Limitations

Every self-driving car functions via advanced software, algorithms, and sensors. But many of these technologies are still under development.

For instance, self-driving cars still struggle to navigate busy city streets and other complex environments efficiently.

Driverless vehicles cannot be adopted until several regulatory and legal hurdles have been addressed. There are concerns around security and data privacy, including liability if a road accident involves autonomous vehicles.

Public Acceptance and Trust Issues

Many individuals don’t hide their skepticism regarding driverless vehicles. It may not be widely adopted if no one trusts a self-driving car. No one wants to risk their lives in an autonomous car.

The Future of Self-Driving Cars

The future of autonomous vehicles looks positive as this rapidly evolving field has massive potential for transforming society and the transportation industry. According to a poll by Morning Consult on 1975 people, 16% of respondents are  ‘very likely’ to ride as a passenger in a self driving vehicle, 22% are ‘somewhat likely,’ 23% are not too likely,  28% are ‘not likely at all’, and 11% don’t know if they will buy the idea.

In addition, 22% of respondents believe autonomous vehicles are safer than the average human driver. 35% believe self driving cars are less safe than the average human driver, and 8% believe self-driving vehicles have about the same level of safety as the average human driver. 26% don’t know if autonomous cars are safer than the average human driver.

Potential Impact on the Economy

Autonomous vehicles – like Uber driverless cars, etc. – can change the transportation sector and economy. Data analysis, software development, and maintenance are some jobs self-driving cars may create.

Implications for Urban Planning and Transportation Infrastructure

Self-driving cars also have immense implications for urban planning. They will minimize the need for parking spaces in most urban environments, freeing up valuable real estate for other vital uses. Traffic congestion will also reduce since driverless vehicles can communicate with one another.

Possible Ethical and Societal Considerations

Is there any impact autonomous vehicles will have on public transportation? What about accessibility to marginalized areas or communities? Whose safety should be prioritized: pedestrians or passengers? These are just some of the ethical and societal considerations currently discussed.



Here are some frequently asked questions about self driving cars:

How will self-driving cars affect the future?

Self-driving vehicles will do away with the primary source of human error since they make zero errors of judgment. Research has shown that autonomous cars could save up to 29,447 lives annually by significantly reducing traffic accidents.

Will self-driving cars be safer in the future?

Many auto experts claim self-driving vehicles can be trained to be safer than human drivers. Cameras and sensors assist in guiding and monitoring, making it possible for self-driving cars to sense their environment. They can also anticipate what’s ahead, which no human driver can do.

What is the conclusion of self-driving cars?

The technology underlying fully and semi-autonomous cars is well-developed and fully ready for commercial deployment. In addition, major self-driving car technology companies and software developers have made significant progress in collision avoidance, street mapping, and navigation.


Autonomous vehicles are indeed the future of transportation and general road use. Of course, challenges and concerns remain to be overcome, such as technical limitations, regulatory issues, etc. Nevertheless, the benefits of self-driving cars are too profound, substantial, and far-reaching to ignore.

As technology advances, more autonomous vehicle companies will spring up, and driverless vehicles will become a common sight on public roads. Of course, no one expects a smooth transition from human-controlled cars to robot cars, but the transportation industry – and society – will come to accept self-driving cars.

Did you learn anything new from this information on self-driving cars? Would you ride in an autonomous vehicle? Would you purchase a driverless car? Do you believe in the future of self driven cars? Will you feel safe in a self-driving car? Share your thoughts in the comments.

About Author

  • Princewill M

    Princewill Monday is a versatile freelance writer and tech enthusiast who has a bachelor's degree in Engineering. He enjoys exploring the world through writing, taking everyone along for the ride. He's also passionate about helping businesses grow their audience through SEO-friendly content. When he's not writing, he will watch Sci-fi movies, watch his beloved football team (Liverpool FC) play, or read novels.