No longer the realm of science fiction, the future of driverless cars is getting serious attention from policy makers on both sides of the Atlantic.
By the year 2040, the report paints a picture of a world chockablock with "semiautonomous" and "autonomous" vehicles that communicate both with road infrastructure as well as with each other. "This means that we are potentially on the verge of a great change in the way that we use the roads, and in the way that roads affect our economy and quality of life."
The first tests will be carried out by Oxford University researchers working with Nissan to help create semiautonomous cars. During the tests, the vehicles will include someone who can take over at the wheel in a pinch, but the cars otherwise "will be capable of driving fully independently."
How soon and how big will this be? The estimates are still all over the board. Take it for what it's worth, but earlier this month, one technology analyst, Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray, put out a report where he estimated that autonomous vehicle technology will be a $200 billion market. Idle time in traffic alone costs some $121 billion in productive time and fuel, according to Munster.