I'd say we're in the age of robotics. At my current school, one of the concentrations is in mechatronics and knowing how to build machines that take the place of an expendable employee.
Many of the products we buy were manufactured by fine-tuned machines and they only ever come in contact with a person to go from one end of the factory to the other, or just to be put in another machine if the robot isn't already designed to move it.
Oh, I've no problem with them being on the roads once they're good enough. I'd be fairly happy if it became illegal for people to drive themselves, in twenty years time or so if they show a good safety record and come down in price enough for it to be feasible.
As I understand it, the biggest problem technologically at the moment is making them work in rain and fog and so on. But it's not really an area I've put much research into, I just know that's the problem you have trying to do it off of cameras - it's possible that's ameliorated somewhat using other forms of sensor.
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