GoogleSelfDrivingCarIf you could jump in your car, turn on some tunes, fire up your iPad and hit the road, all the while with no one behind the wheel, would you do it?

I would.

If I could afford it.  New technology isn’t cheap.  New self-driving cars won’t be cheap, at least at first.

But, there may soon be some very significant additions to new cars; things that will make a difference.

As this NY Times article notes, the biggest advantages at first won’t be convenience.

The biggest, earliest advantages of robotic automobiles will be safety.

Researchers at Va Tech have quantified just how much safer robotic assisted cars will be.

They found that lane-departure warning systems would have prevented 30.3 percent of the crashes caused by lane drifting, and 25.8 percent of the injuries. Rear-end and collision warning systems and automatic brakingwould have prevented only 3.2 percent to 7.7 percent of crashes, but would have reduced their severity. The number of people injured or killed would have declined in the range of 29 to 50 percent, the researchers concluded.

By comparison, seatbelts have reduced injuries and fatalities by about 50 percent, and are considered the most beneficial auto safety measure ever invented, Mr. Gabler said.

I think the promise will be kept, but it will be an incremental process.   Self-driving cars may be a decade away, at least at anything like a price the average consumer will be able to pay.

But the safety gains made possible by systems that will make up a self-driving car will show up in the not so distant future.

And everyone will benefit.  After all:  robots don’t sleep!