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When will self-driving cars be everywhere?

Recode’s Johana Bhuiyan demystifies the landscape of autonomous vehicles on Too Embarrassed to Ask.

a Waymo self-driving car Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

If you want to ride in a self-driving car as soon as possible, keep your eye on the big ride-sharing apps.

“If we have self-driving cars via Uber and Lyft, it’ll happen a lot faster than we expect it to because we’re not depending on things like consumers buying self-driving cars,” Recode’s Johana Bhuiyan said on the latest episode of Too Embarrassed to Ask. “If it’s not the personal car ownership model, it’ll happen way, way faster — 10 or so years — that these cars will be on the road and the mass market will experience them and have access to them.”

“If car ownership continues and people are still buying vehicles,” she added, “we will have to wait for — of course, they’re going to come in at the high end — expensive vehicles, luxury vehicles, that only a certain subset of consumers can buy, and then we’ll have to wait for that to get commoditized. That’ll take a lot longer.”

On the new podcast, Bhuiyan spoke with Recode’s Kara Swisher and The Verge’s Lauren Goode about how this emerging technology will change everything from commuting to trucking to getting a manicure (really!). She said companies and disability advocates are both gearing up to fight against proposed state laws that would require a licensed driver to be in the car while it’s in motion, which would limit the ability of autonomous vehicles to serve the elderly and disabled.

However, there’s a big reason those rules were made in the first place: Ostensibly, self-driving car systems like Tesla’s Autopilot aren’t “fully autonomous,” meaning they still require drivers to keep their hands on the wheel while the computer is driving. Uber-owned autonomous trucking company Otto has already made its first delivery, but the trucks can only drive on the highway and require a human to take them on and off.

“Even assisted-driver features, which is basically advanced cruise control, really decrease the amount of accidents that we see and increase the safety of driving,” Bhuiyan said. “But Google [and] Ford say that the safest way for us to realize those benefits is to wait until the technology can drive for itself, completely, so that there’s no risk for human interference with the system.”

Have questions about self-driving cars that we didn’t get to in this episode? Or have another tech topic on your mind? You can tweet any questions, comments and complaints to @Recode with the hashtag #TooEmbarrassed. You can also email your questions to, if Twitter isn’t your thing.

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If you like this show, you should also check out our other podcasts:

  • Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher, is a weekly show featuring in-depth interviews with the movers and shakers in tech and media every Monday. You can subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn, Stitcher and SoundCloud.
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This article originally appeared on

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