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"Our Driverless Future: The Search for Autonomy"

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CARL AZUZ, CNN 10 ANCHOR: Technology, specifically on the road, takes the driver's seat in this special edition of CNN 10. My name is Carl Azuz.

Thanks for watching this Friday, because Fridays are awesome.

We're wrapping up our series on autonomous or driverless cars.

Manufacturers around the world are investing in the technology to develop them. Business and consumers are anticipating ways they can use them. But one important thing to point out is that right now, on a scale driving autonomy, we are at zero. Human drivers are completely in charge or supposed to be, of all the cars' systems.

Some vehicles like Tesla's Model S do offer an autopilot mode, which the company calls a driver assistant system. But the technology is still being developed and it's not meant to be completely relied upon by drivers. A car on autopilot was involved earlier this week in a high way crash with a fire truck. There weren't any injuries.

Besides questions about their safety, though, we've talked about the potential of driverless cars to be hacked. We've covered concerns about tracking and privacy. We've explored their possible impact on the U.S. economy.

And today, we're giving you a glimpse of what could be the future of autonomous vehicles. They're used specifically in American cities,

supposing everything goes as hope by the manufacturers and supporters of driverless technology.

Here's Chris Moody.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRIS MOODY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Americans love their cars. Getting my first car was one of the happiest days of my life. And I've loved driving ever since, especially fast cars.

Yes, that's not actually my car, but hey, look, this is my story and I can dream if I want to.

But what if I'm part of the last generation to get excited about driving a car. I spent the past year traveling the country, talking to entrepreneurs, engineers and test drivers who are building the cars of tomorrow.

And when they imagine the future, driving a car isn't part of it. They envision roads full of cars driven by machines, where traffic jams are no more, where the death rate by car accidents drops to zero, the end of car ownership as we know it -- even to the point of human driving one day becoming illegal.

I asked them all the same thing, what will the future look like and what will it take to get there? What I found is really exciting, but also a bit shocking.

SUBTITLE: Our Driverless Future: The Search for Autonomy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, so, as soon as I turn out of this parking lot, I'm going to change to self-driving mode. Technically, we don't need a driver in the car.

MOODY (on camera): So, you and I are basically in a way just passengers now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

MOODY (voice-over): We're test-driving a car powered by autonomous vehicle startup Drive AI on the streets of Northern California. It's one of several companies working to utterly transform how we live. This test car could be the prototype of an automobile that not only takes out of the driver's seat but creates a future where you might not need to own a car at all. At least that's what the people building them think.

SEBASTIAN THRUN, CHAIRMAN AND CO-FOUNDER OF UDACITY, SCHOOL FOR DRIVERLESS CAR ENGINEERS: Ownership therefore (ph) be abandoned. We mostly have cars that will be summoned on our phone. The car become empty and take us out and we get inside in front of our office or a house and it drives us straight to the restaurant and there's no time waste of parking.

STERLING ANDERSON, CO-FOUNDER OF AURORA DRIVERLESS CAR COMPANY: In a world of self-driving cars, the utopia of the future, the only vehicles operating the city are driverless, electric, emissionless vehicles. They can position themselves in a state where, you know, you or I hailing one from our smartphone, has one there within a minute.

GABE KLEIN, EXPERT ON CITY PLANNING: We will look back and say, wow, people own cars to get from this point to that point.

MOODY: Eliminating car ownership would drastically change the way we shape our cities.

KLEIN: The thing I'm most excited about is the ability on the street to reallocate space away from the storage of vehicles. Right now, cars sit idle 94.8 percent of the time. I mean, that's staggering. And I think we can literally close 30, 40 percent of our streets to automobiles. You don't need cars on neighborhood streets anymore. You just need them on the perimeter of your neighborhood.

CHRIS URMSON, CO-FOUNDER OF AURORA DRIVERLESS CAR COMPANY: All of these parking facilities today get turned into residential space or parks or offices, or restaurants. And we can kind of give back the city to the people that live in it and take it away from the automobiles, right? I think that they -- the quality of life and the opportunity to kind of reuse that space is going to be pretty magical.

MOODY: Imagine it, never driving again.

The nation of muscle cars, NASCAR, and open road, you're going to tell Americans they can't drive? Well, eventually, maybe.

RAJ RAJKUMAR, PROFESSOR OF ENGINEERING AT CARNEGIE MELLON UNIVERSITY: There maybe a law in place that basically says 50 years from now, humans cannot drive on public roads and if a human does want to drive, they can go to a private car ranch that he can basically drive the (INAUDIBLE).

MOODY: All right. I know what you're thinking, a car ranch? But it's actually not crazy. Remember, when we transition from horses to automobiles, we didn't shot all the horses.

Well, guess what? These car ranches actually already exist. Think of car companies that build high-end sports cars that are meant to be driven by humans, not robots. They're already building driving courses round the country, and yes, there is fun as they sound.

ANDRE OOSTHUIZEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF MARKETING FOR PORSCHE: We've opened in May 2015. We'll come in, you'll meet -- you register and meet your driving coach and then the driving coach will then take you onto the track. We believe this destination that we've created has got a long term future.

MOODY: Porsche knows that driverless technology is around the corner, but they still want people to love driving, even if they do less of it on public roads.

(on camera): Whoo!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's like eating your (INAUDIBLE)

MOODY: Yes, seriously.

(voice-over): All right. Let's get back to the real world. The rise of car-sharing services has already made people accustomed to the idea of not owning a car. Today, human drivers pick us up when we use Uber or Lyft. But that's not going to last.

TAGGART MATTHIESEN, DIRECTOR OF PRODUCT AT LYFT: Autonomous drive-sharing is absolutely coming. It is right around the corner. And you'll see it in pockets at first. And slowly and surely, you'll start to see these vehicles all over the place.

There is an opportunity on a long enough timeline where we may have a fleet that is fully autonomous. As you start to see people adopt to transportation as a service, the hope here is that cars will -- car ownership will slowly decline.

MOODY: The ripple effect of automation on our cities will be felt beyond just cars. Drones will roam the skies making deliveries.

And robots like this one already in Washington, D.C. may bring food orders to your door very soon. In the nation's capital, Starship Technologies delivers food by an automated robot.

(on camera): Here it is. Hello, robot. I'd like a sandwich. Man. All right.

So, I just had a robot deliver me a sandwich on the streets of Washington, D.C. It's just in the trial phase right now. But in the future, it could be a lot more common. Robots, drones, deliver your hoagie right to your house. All I got to do is push a button on an app and you got yourself a sandwich.

(voice-over): All of these changes won't come easy. Perhaps the biggest fear, what will happen when all these robots get better at our jobs than we are? Will they replace us?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

AZUZ: To be clear, though, most experts say it will be decades before completely driverless cars would fill America's roads. So, for the near future, humans will still be more than autonomostly in control.

I'm Carl Azuz. That wraps up this week's coverage on CNN 10. We're looking forward to seeing you on Monday.

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