I have a friend that I fear will never have her driver's license. Now with the back seat type of fully autonomous cars does she have to be licensed to be able to use one?

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    Currently yes, there are no 100% autonomous cars available to purchase right now, some manual driving is still required. This may be dependant upon the state since there is no federal law about driving like that...
    – Ron Beyer
    Commented Nov 1, 2018 at 21:16

1 Answer 1


Nobody knows. It will depend on how good self driving cars will be, and what legislation will say.

You would have to drive yourself if (a) the self driving car encounters a situation that it doesn't know how to handle, and (b) the self driving car detects a defect that makes it unsafe for it to have control. In both cases, if you don't have a driving license, or if you are drunk, you are stuck. So the legislators will have to decide whether it is acceptable that cars might be stuck from time to time. Depends on how often it happens obviously.

Of course, today you can have a flat tire, or run out of fuel, and get stuck, so being stuck is not something unheard of.

  • Perhaps a better analogy is that if two (or more) people are riding in a car, but only one is a licensed driver. If the driver becomes ill (or drunk) and unable to drive the non-driver is stuck until someone who can drive legally (or a tow-truck) lends aid, although in a true emergency the unlicensed driver might perhaps drive and not be charged with a crime. Commented Nov 2, 2018 at 17:18
  • As an aside, researchers are trying to avoid cars that handle most situations but not all, since a human driver is almost certainly not going to be prepared to react to a difficult situation after letting the car drive itself. Commented Nov 2, 2018 at 21:12
  • @DavidThornley Having to take over while driving would be awful - I have coped with an exploding tire once which was a bit frightening, but if my self driving car gave control back to me in that situation while I was reading the newspaper, that would be awful. I was thinking of situations like road covered with water and you have no idea how deep it is. I once reversed a mile on a motorway because it was blocked a mile ahead (everyone else did the same, and police actually waved at people to proceed), a self driving car might refuse to do this.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Nov 3, 2018 at 16:59

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