Self-driving technology already cruising down local streets

BOSTON -- Love or hate it, car shopping is something most of us do at least a few times in our lives and if you have been to a new car dealership lately you likely noticed many new models nearly drive themselves.

Eric Balles, Managing Director of Transport and Energy at Draper, a technology focused research and development company in Cambridge told Boston 25 News, "Those are important building blocks of what an autonomous vehicle would ultimately have and the fact they are commercial, you and I can buy them today, is a remarkable testament to how we're making strides to autonomous vehicles."

Boston 25 News test drove a 2018 Honda Civic and a 2018 Volvo XC-90.  Both have adaptive cruise control which automatically adjusts the vehicle's speed to maintain a set distance from the car ahead of it.

When the car in front of the Volvo stopped at a light the Volvo safely stopped behind it without any input from the driver. The Volvo then automatically engaged the accelerator when it sensed the car ahead was moving again.

Other semi-autonomous features including a lane keeping function: using cameras and sensors the Honda detected the lines in the road and made slight corrections when the vehicle drifted from its lane.

If parking is a challenge, some cars can locate an empty space and then steer into it.  Watch the video above to see how Volvo did just that.

"I think it’s natural to feel a little uneasy because you're putting your hands in technology that's foreign to you, but after using it a couple of times I can see how it’s hard not to use it and use it every day” said Eric Yngve, sales manager Honda Natick.

The technology is constantly improving but it's not perfect. Drivers must remain focused and ready act if the vehicle does not respond as it should.

In the next three to five years semi-autonomous features should be available, if not standard in most new cars sold.