It was recently revealed that Google has been testing automated cars for some time now:
With someone behind the wheel to take control if something goes awry and a technician in the passenger seat to monitor the navigation system, seven test cars have driven 1,000 miles without human intervention and more than 140,000 miles with only occasional human control. One even drove itself down Lombard Street in San Francisco, one of the steepest and curviest streets in the nation. The only accident, engineers said, was when one Google car was rear-ended while stopped at a traffic light.
Autonomous cars are years from mass production, but technologists who have long dreamed of them believe that they can transform society as profoundly as the Internet has.
Why does this story have as much as appeal as it seems to have on the Internet? A quick argument:
This is a dream dating back decades. The futuristic exhibits of the mid 20th century had visions of this: people blissfully enjoying their trips while the cars took care of the driving. To see the dream come to fruition is satisfying and fulfilling. On a broader scale, this is part of the bigger narrative of technological progress. Although it has been delayed longer than some imagined, it demonstrates ingenuity and the progress of Americans. Since Americans have a well-established love affair with the automobile, driverless cars offers the best of all worlds: personal freedom in transportation without the need to actually do any work. And if we soon get cars that run on electricity or hydrogen, it can be completely guilt-free transportation!