The idea that "self driving cars" will
A. occur anytime soon or
B. drive down car ownership,
is a pipe dream.
Billions have been poured into flight control systems and they all still require someone to sit behind the yoke and monitor them. While they do have an extra dimension, they also don't have to deal with as many variables, crappy roads, detours, crappy drivers to avoid, nonsensical roads, etc.
Before driverless cars are ubiquitous, nothing less than a complete overhaul of the roads to simplify routes, clearly mark boundaries, simplify interchanges, and reduce to a minimum possible conflicts, will be necessary. Billions and billions of infrastructure overhaul.
Comparing commercial passenger airline operations to driving cars is ridiculous. Airplanes are treated very, very differently from cars in a great number of ways..let's look at a few.
Okay, so let's start off with the regulations on maintenance of airliners. Logbooks are kept, specific forms of maintenance are required, people working on the planes MUST have specific training and credentials...and those are just the basics. Any material change to the aircraft, including updates to software or even flight mapping data, require re-testing. And failing to comply with any of these standards is actually considered a violation of law. Imagine if you'd get fined for being late for an oil change in your car, or for not getting the car re-certified when you got new tires?
Now, on for the more relevant point...training of the pilots. These are people who work their way up to being able to fly large jets, including a substantial amount of time in simulators...very expensive, elaborate simulators...before they even get to put their hands on the yoke of a real passenger jet. Compare and contrast this to student drivers with less than 30 hours of classroom time before they are driving regular cars on regular roads as the next step in their training, after which they are able to get a full-privilege license and drive just like anyone else.
Consider the accident rate of driving...32,675 deaths in 2015 in the United States (according to the Administrator of the NHTSA when he spoke last week at the Vehicle Cybersecurity Roundtable), of which "94%" (his number as well) were the result of "human error or human choice." Even if a car held as many passengers as a 737, that number of accidents (which actually represents fantastic progress, given that it's the lowest number of car-related deaths per 100,000 people since 1920) would cause people to go batshit insane if it happened in our airline industry. But in cars, it's just considered normal.
People...both the public and those in government...are WAY more tolerant of risk in cars than with regard to airlines. The head of the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration himself stood up last week in front of an audience of hundreds and espoused the expected life-saving benefits of self-driving technology. It won't be perfect, it'll need to improve, it will evolve over time...but those who would be in charge of promoting or limiting the technology have spoken and stated clearly that they are fully on the "promoting" side.