Associated Press — Mr. Rajkumar estimates it will be decades before totally autonomous driving will be commonplace on the country's roadways, but as his team and other researchers perfect new autonomous functions, car makers will incrementally offer them in consumer vehicles. For example, features such as on-demand autonomous parallel parking, lane-drifting assist and adaptive cruise control, among others, are already available.
"Computers in cars have been doing some of the controls for quite some time and they will be doing more and more," he said. "To me, the next coming generation -- the next 30 years or so -- will see this hybrid, where advance technologies do more and more driving but coexist [with a human driver]."
But, he added, widespread use of autonomous driving vehicles is inevitable.
"This evolution, when it happens -- not if, but when -- will be very gradual, very incremental," he said.
"But I do see a point in time [when the feeling will be] that if you are human, you are capable of making mistakes, and therefore if you are driving, you could be a danger to yourself or others. And because of that, you definitely would not be able to drive on public roads."
Mr. Rajkumar got in his personal car and pulled away, his hands on the steering wheel, his foot on the accelerator, his eyes on the road.
Some day not far away, how quaint that will seem.