"It's going to be a cool product and will defy people's expectations on what an electric truck can do."
- Elon Musk
USA Today quotes an investment banker on autonomous vehicles. The banker said that the complete "hands-off and eyes-off" scenario - meaning no human interaction with a steering wheel and gas/brake pedal whatsoever - will "take longer than many anticipate."
If you're Elon Musk, though, you've got plans to introduce a fully autonomous (and electric) semi-truck to market sometime within the next two years.
The Elon Musk Ambition
Musk is the CEO of automaker Tesla. (Musk also runs other incredibly high profile companies like SpaceX, which seeks to get humans to Mars.) Tesla's goal, essentially, is to bring self-driving cars to the world.
A large-scale network of autonomous cars, especially in areas with high population densities and heavy vehicle traffic - like Los Angeles - may improve congestion and markedly decrease the number of car accidents.
After all, self-driving cars won't get drunk and insist on driving home.
Tesla's Self-driving Big Rig
Commercial vehicles may be the first real test of feasibility.
As USA Today reports, Musk may unveil Tesla's self-driving big rig as soon as next month. Tesla recently met with government officials to discuss a test drive - with no human being behind the wheel at all - between the states of California and Nevada, on public highways.
On the highway, driving conditions are more "predictable" than they are on city streets.
There's no evidence yet that the government has given its blessing to these tests, but it almost seems like a foregone conclusion at this point. The investment banker quoted above by USA Today says it will take longer than we think to see fully autonomous vehicles on the roads, but it seems only a matter of time.