"On the road of life, there are passengers and there are drivers. Drivers wanted."

Do you remember that advertising tag from Volkswagen? When the German car maker wanted to introduce itself to a new generation in the mid-90s, it launched that slogan, marrying the emotions of life to the actions of driving.

Soon, Volkswagen could replace "Drivers wanted," with "Drivers optional."

While Google, Uber and Tesla might be leading the fight in bringing self-driving cars to the mainstream, other brands such as Volkswagen are also automating the process. Studies show that driverless cars could save the auto industry as much as $200 billion per year by reducing deaths and injuries.

The technology is getting better. A recent report shows that Nissan's driverless cars needed human intervention once every 247 miles in 2016 -- a huge leap from once every 14 miles in 2015.

Let's take a look at some of the companies building a future where the driver is fully automated.

Uber

Probably the most famous company pioneering the driverless car, Uber has already tested self-driving cars in San Francisco and Pittsburgh. Soon, you'll be able to hail the latest version of Uber's driverless car in Arizona.

The company has come under heavy criticism for early versions of driverless cars, but has continually tweaked the process. It will be interesting to see how the self-driving cars will perform in Arizona, after the company has used San Francisco and Pittsburgh as trial runs.

During this testing phase, Uber's cars aren't 100 percent driverless. If you're lucky enough to take a ride in one, there will be one or two engineers on board making sure operations go smoothly and you arrive at your destination safely.

Uber still faces an uphill battle with safety regulations, but I think they're the closest to bringing self-driving cars into the mainstream.

Tesla

Through Tesla's Autopilot program, all cars produced have the hardware for at least partial self-driving capabilities.

Cameras all over the car provide a 360-degree view of any obstacles, allowing the computer system within the car to make intelligent decisions. Tesla believes that their technology could actually be superior to having a human driver behind the wheel.

Right now, Tesla's features enhance the driving experience by making it safer, but it's easy to see that Elon Musk has his eyes set on full autonomous driving.

Tesla is putting more and more cars like this out on the road, ramping up production from 50,000 units per year to 500,000. Soon, technology like this will be more commonplace.

Volkswagen

When you think of innovative car brands, Volkswagen might not be top-of-mind, but they should be. The German automaker is committed to selling a million electric cars by 2025, making e-mobility a key facet of the company.

The company is taking a cue from Uber and developing on-demand autonomous vehicles. The spinoff company, Moia, is headquartered in Berlin. It is starting with developing an app allowing users to hail an electric car for ridesharing -- similar to UberPool or Lyft Line.

Phase two of Volkswagen's plans with Moia include self-driving technology, but details haven't been fully announced yet. In January, Volkswagen did showcase a self-driving, futuristic Microbus concept car at the North American International Auto Show, called the ID Buzz.

Mitsubishi

Mitsubishi has a grand plan for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo: a full fleet of driverless cars to transport fans and athletes around the city.

As part of a government-backed plan, engineers from Dynamic Map Planning have already started 3-D mapping Tokyo's streets to get them ready for self-driving cars. By logging data such as curb location, lane height and turning rules, the goal is for autonomous cars to know the city streets better than even the most seasoned cab drivers.

Mitsubishi is working with NIssan, Toyota and other technology companies to make driverless transportation a reality by 2020.

Google

Since launching the Waymo program in 2009, Google's driverless cars have logged more than 2 million miles -- half of that in 2016 alone. Google completed the first-ever self-driven car ride in 2015.

Google has been testing self-driving cars in its backyard of Mountain View, Calif., as well as Kirkland, Wash., Phoenix and Austin.

The company claims that its technology can spot obstacles such as pedestrians, cyclists and roadwork from up to 200 yards in every direction.

Published on: Jun 16, 2017