Hate to say I told you so, but...here's an article describing not only that European and Japanese automakers are hard at work developing cars that drive themselves, but also that people in the auto industry see autonomous cars on the road by 2020.
This article in New Scientist points at many layers of technology, all stemming from the grandfather of autonomous car tech: the anti-lock brake. For example:
-Volvo now has a system where your car will prevent you from running over a pedestrian. -GM expects to launch vehicles that need no human control on the highway by 2015. -Japanese researchers have developed a wifi network that communicates hazards between cars and automatically tells the driver this information. -Researchers are developing the SARTRE system, by which a car can join a "convoy" and let the lead car control the direction and speed. All cars in the convoy save as much as 40% of their gas via this system -GM and Carnegie Mello.n researchers won DARPA's urban challenge with a fully autonomous vehicle moving in traffic.
TAE takes great relief in the thought that by the time The Abstracted Daughter is old enough to get her driver's license...she might not need one. And "traffic fatality" maybe a buzzword from "dad's era".