The most famous driverless cars in the world belong to Google. Since 2009, its experiments have clocked more than 750,000 miles on California roads with neither a driver nor an accident. But Google’s cars aren’t alone. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University’s Navlabbuilt their first experimental autonomous vehicle back in 1984. In 2010, a semi-autonomous van built by researchers at the University of Parma drove from Italy to Shanghai and back, a round trip of more than 8,000 miles.
Much of the technology invented for these cars, like adaptive cruise control that applies the brakes when it detects slow traffic ahead, has found its way into mainstream vehicles. The benefit is clear: In normal driving conditions, a car with cameras, radar, and sophisticated software is probably a better driver than you are.