Google's Eric Schmidt, Larry Page, and Sergey Brin pose with one of the company's self-driving cars. Note the cumbersome sensor unit on the roof. Mass-produced self-driving cars will have sensors integrated into the car's body. Photo credit: Google.

Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) has wowed the world with its self-driving cars, and the search-engine giant would love to commercialize the technology. It's not alone: Automakers from General Motors (NYSE:GM) to Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA) have recently confirmed that they have systems that will drive your car for you -- at least sometimes -- under development.

That "sometimes" qualifier is important, though. While a car that can drive itself represents advanced technology, a lot of that technology is already mainstream. Many luxury cars, and even some mass-market models like Ford's (NYSE:F) Fusion, are already available with the special radar sensors and cameras that will be key parts of the self-driving cars of the future.

Technology, it turns out, probably isn't the biggest thing holding back self-driving cars. Instead, as Fool contributor John Rosevear explains in this video, it's the legal framework around self-driving cars -- or rather, the lack of one -- that has made automakers very cautious about rushing this new technology to market.


Fool contributor John Rosevear owns shares of Ford and General Motors. The Motley Fool recommends Ford, General Motors, Google, and Tesla Motors. The Motley Fool owns shares of Ford, Google, and Tesla Motors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.