The driverless car idea embraces an emerging family of highly automated cognitive and control technologies, eventually aimed at a full "taxi-like" experience for car users, but without a human driver. Together with alternative propulsion, it is seen by some as the main scientific advance in car technology by 2020.

Driverless passenger programs include the 800 million ECU EUREKA Prometheus Project on autonomous vehicles (1987-1995), the 2getthere passenger vehicles (using the FROG-navigation technology) from the Netherlands, the ARGO investigate project from Italy, and the DARPA Grand Challenge from the USA. For the wider application of artificial intelligence to automobiles see smart cars.