If you ask anybody who keeps up with the tech world, they'll likely tell you that Google was the one who popularized the notion of the fully autonomous vehicle and, in many ways, is currently leading the race. Stiff competition is coming from all sides in the form of companies like Tesla and offerings in the works from established automakers like Honda. Google's cars are still learning and lawmakers, well aware of that fact, have yet to truly bite on the notion of allowing self-driving cars to move forward as planned. While many say that this is the biggest hurdle for the nascent technology, it's something that could easily be resolved in a year or two in most places. According to a recent quote from Alphabet executive Eric Schmidt, however, self-driving cars may still have a ways to go.
At a shareholder meeting, Schmidt was asked just how close self-driving cars are to becoming the kind of mainstream transportation they were originally created to be. He gave an answer that said, in essence, that there was no way to know exactly how development would go or exactly when it may be ready, but that they're almost ready for primetime, though not quite yet. Specifically, he said that the autonomous automobiles should be ready to pick you up within the span of "years, not decades", according to the consensus among the relevant team members within Alphabet. He did, of course, say that all of these figures would hinge on relevant regulation and administration.
He also mentioned offhand that getting self-driving cars ready for primetime may be an easier task in an area with "ample parking" space available. Whether this means that the cars could use more practice parking or that they would be able to deploy self-driving cars to fares more quickly if they have somewhat nearby places to park. If the transportation revolution takes off at the scale that Google is suggesting it will, just about anywhere will likely have "ample parking". Whatever the case may be, Schmidt made it quite clear that self-driving cars, for all intents and purposes, will most likely not become a mainstream phenomenon any time soon.