Self-driving cars aren't just a technological challenge, although that hill is steep. To go mainstream, they'll have to cross psychological barriers so that people feel comfortable in them, and driving next to them. That's why autonomous vehicle researchers have started dressing up as car seats when they're out on the road.
Not surprisingly, it's a tactic that can lead to some confusion in public. Recently in Virginia, a local reporter thought he spotted a driverless car operating without a test driver present, which is illegal. It took some sleuthing to figure out that the car actually had a person inside of it.
The fact that the car was able to generate a shows how self-driving cars can affect people.
While being in the driver's seat of a self-driving car may one day be a delight, it's currently a highly stressful position. In the private sector, jobs like this can go for , and they are "anything but carefree," Steven Levy of . "Because I'm a hair trigger away from disengagement, I have to pay a lot more attention than is required from actually driving."