Google's testing self-driving cars in public this summer, but they're still years away from going mainstream

Google announced on Friday that prototypes of its pod-shaped self-driving cars will hit California’s public roads this summer. They will be equipped with the same software Google used to retrofit its fleet of self-driving Lexus and Toyota cars. For now, Google is capping the speed of the prototypes at 25mph and will operate with a safety driver behind the wheel.

Although this is a big step forward for Google, we’re still years away from seeing any substantial adoption of self-driving cars. According to the chart by BI Intelligence, based on data from research firm Frost and Sullivan, there were only about 70 self-driving cars worldwide as of last year (and they were all prototypes, since you cannot actually buy a self-driving car today). That’s expected to jump to 180,000 by 2020, when advances in technology and regulatory changes could make self-driving cars available to the general public.

But it’s still a tiny fraction of this year’s 88 million-plus global auto sales.

Consumers are still getting comfortable with the notion of taking their hands off the steering wheel. Two-thirds of Americans indicated they’re not completely against self-driving car technology, and 22% said they’d consider buying a self-driving car if the safety and reliability concerns are solved, according to recent Harris Poll survey. “Right now, the self-driving car market is in its infancy and will see a lot of scrutiny over the next five to ten years as consumers adapt to them and lawmakers create the necessary regulations,” BI Intelligence writes.

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