As the cost of running a car increases so do the efforts to reduce the consumption. More effort is being spent in getting the most that we can out of the petrol we put in, following this it makes sense to take the human element away so that a computer can figure out the most fuel efficient methods. This also frees up more time, for instance your car could drop you off and then head away to the car park by itself. This change would allow driving to be a leisure activity again; on your daily commute to the office you let your car drive itself and then on the weekends you can go for a nice drive.
Self-driving cars drive more safely, more efficiently and primarily more easily; however, the United States is headed towards a future less centered around car culture. As energy costs increase, cities grow and alternative transport grow more popular, cars are becoming much and much less popular. So, while I find self-driving (and perhaps shared or public) car systems to be the future of cars, I don't think the future is about cars at all.
Single biggest factor why this will work is the daily rush hour traffic where we would be better off doing something in the car like eating our breakfast to shaving our beard.
Second factor will be our laziness, this will also fuel our thirst for an automated driving vehicle.
Third factor will be safety, where it's either everyone live or everyone die together, imagine apple maps, car thinks road is ahead and thousands of vehicles dive into the ocean together. Question is how many often does the system crash, and stats of the avg car accidents a year with vs without the system.
But here's the biggest problem, what happens when we wish to drive ourselves? Can the computer system accommodate a driver(bug) without jeopardizing the safety of the mass public? Because these mostly are errant drivers and speed demons whom still lack a sense of emotional control, unpredictable.
Consumers are not asking for self driving cars, rather the manufacturers are making it appear they are with the media and by trying to legislate them into existance. Would you pay to give up freedom? Further, software is in a terrible state these days. Will you trust the code that is probably constantly being updated at random with the same quality of testing we can expect from modern software shops? (Hint: My radio crashes in my new car. The same company that brought me this now wants to control my steering and brakes? No thanks.). Further, the driving force behind the self driving car is not what they are telling you. As usual they pull on our environmental and safety heartstrings. Do you think they care? No. This is again about power, control, and taking away freedoms. As usual. Wake up guys!
Bluntly put, nobody wants a car that drives itself. It feels weird being a passenger after paying so much for a car, especially one to drive, one that you call your own. What if it malfunctions? Though they are more fuel efficient and safer, it makes us dependent on a computer to figure out something the brain can at a much faster pace. It's a computer on wheels, that has to take in everything in its surroundings no matter how relevant it is.
Why would anyone buy one?