It's interesting how people are thinking ever more deeply about the meaning and consequences of driverless cars. Here is a trio of the more in-depth articles if you want to dig in: Ways to Think About Cars and Roadmap for a World Without Drivers and Driverless Cars Too Safe.
The issues being raised are pointed. First there is a question of what a driverless car needs to be. The glib question is, Does a driverless car need windshield wipers? For that matter does it need windows? Maybe all that's required is a comfy chair and wi-fi.
A more interesting question is will we own them? If Uber is pointing the way, maybe not. We'll just order one up as needed. I'm sure that will work in cities, where there are high concentrations of people and it make economic sense to maintain a fleet large enough to promptly service everyone who orders one. Not so much in rural areas, and not so much for impulsive folks, who may decide on a whim to run an errand. I would bet in any situation where you had to wait more than five minutes for a car you there would be a certain drive for personal ownership.
Perhaps the most interesting question is the one about cars being too safe. This highlights one aspect of driving that is often overlooked. Though it seems like a mechanical activity, it is actually highly social and quite subtle. It generally requires you to know what laws it's OK to push beyond and by how much and in what circumstances. There are challenges of courtesy and cooperation. If I am running late and I need to push beyond the law to make my flight, I am required to evaluate the risks and costs of various levels of speeding, and have a sense for how far I can impose my needs on other drivers without inciting road rage. It will be very interesting to see how we do when we aren't allowed to cheat, or perhaps more scary, when we mix drivers and driverless so only some can cheat. This is the sort of circumstance that is going to feed snarky internet commentary into the next century.
All these questions will be overcome eventually, but perhaps not for long time and not without some false starts and a good deal of conflict. Delivery vehicles, including 18 wheelers, on the other hand, should be about ready to go. None of these issues applies to them. With people out of the picture things become simple. There is no one to look out the windows. They can be perfectly scheduled so there is no one to order one up on a whim and no one to be impatient to arrive. I expect to see this in my lifetime. The only thing that can stop it is the Teamsters.