2017 is the year we could see more of Google's robot car on the road, at least according to Steve Rosenbush with the Wall Street Journal. Although that depends on whether Google can surmount the policy and legal hurdles - not to mention the public's legitimate concern for safety - that naturally come with cars that no longer have a real breathing human being behind the controls.
That said, there are those who are very optimistic. Rosenbush quotes Bryant Smith, a fellow at Stanford Law School, who recently organized the Challenges and Opportunities of Road Vehicle Automation conference.
"I am convinced that when the technology is ready," Smith said, "the law and policy will make room."
So what kind of room are we talking about here? The kind of room where you'd be comfortable riding alongside a robot car, relatively unconcerned for your safety. This isn't such a hard leap to make, though. After all, it's hard to argue that a computer is prone to getting drunk or distracted because it wanted to send a text message.
This is also the kind of room where lawmakers have worked out how robot cars fit into the overall framework of traffic safety regulations. And the kind of policies insurance companies will sell to guard against car accidents. And the willingness of insurance companies to actually pay out once a driverless car does become involved in an accident - which is probably inevitable, no matter how smart they are.
Source: Under Pressure, Google May Slow Rollout of Driverless Car Technology