An anonymous reader writes: Wired Magazine interviews several car manufacturers and technology companies developing autonomous vehicles. Riding in Google's self driving car with Chris Urmson, a roboticist and Anthony Levandowski, business lead on the project, reveals how rapidly autonomous car innovation has come. A S-Class Mercedes test drive is "monitored by the car’s Attention Assistance function, which tracks more than 70 elements—from minor steering wheel movements to my use of turn signals—for signs of operator fatigue. After 20 minutes, the baseline is set and the car will flag subsequent deviations. If, while parsing the data, it senses that I’ve grown weary, a coffee cup icon pops up in the instrument cluster. (It’s up to me to pull over for the coffee.)" Audi has included an "adaptive cruise-control system" in the A8 model that features a “stop and go" ability while driving at low speeds. The primary drawback to the adoption of autonomous in society besides legal hurdles "may be social and cultural. Do we want to give up the wheel? More than status, the car represents freedom. It’s a fundamental part of our character, liberty with the turn of a key"