Taking a ride in a fully autonomous car may not be as far off as you think.
Autonomous cars are only about five to 10 years away from becoming mainstream, according to Gartner’s 2015 Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, which was published Tuesday.
The research firm’s annual report places autonomous vehicles at the peak of its hype cycle, which is when expectations for the technology are often inflated and many companies are jumping into the space.
Last year, autonomous vehicles were still categorized as pre-peak on Gartner’s hype chart. And while the tech is still in its nascent stages, it’s move to forward in the cycle is significant.
“While autonomous vehicles are still embryonic, this movement still represents a significant advancement, with all major automotive companies putting autonomous vehicles on their near-term roadmaps,” Gartner said in a press statement.
There’s no question there are plenty of players betting on driverless cars.
Traditional automakers like GM, Ford, and BMW have all made investments in the technology. And even tech giants like Google, Uber, and reportedly Apple are positioning themselves to be market leaders.
Google’s self-driving cars have already driven more than 1 million miles and are currently being tested in Mountain View, California and Austin, Texas. Uber opened its Advanced Technologies Center in Pittsburgh earlier this year where its testing cars with an autonomy system. And now Apple is also reportedly scouting areas to test its own self-driving car.
According to a recent report from The Guardian, the Apple approached a company called GoMentum, which owns a facility car companies use to test futuristic vehicles. While it’s unclear if Apple approached GoMentum to its own car or something else, the GoMentum facility would be the perfect spot to test a top-secret vehicle since it’s essentially a ghost town that’s closed off to the public.
Given the momentum in the space, Gartner’s prediction could be right. Driverless cars may end up on the road before we know it.
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