ACROSS Mzansi and the broader continent, self driving cars are rapidly becoming not just a possibility, but a reality.

Last year, Elon Musk, a South African-born American entrepreneur and businessman, announced that Tesla cars will soon be available in Mzansi. Recent developments at Tesla include the announcement of ‘full’ autopilot, which gives any such equipped car the ability to drive entirely on its own.

Blade Nzimande, former Minister of Transport, recently noted that while no self-driving cars were currently on Mzansi roads, the government had plans to introduce them as soon as the necessary legislation framework had been created.

That fundamental is connectivity.With 4G proven and in place, the next steps towards enabling connected and autonomous cars include increased coverage and upgrades to the next generation 5G, capable of handling far greater data throughput.

And in addition to connectivity, security remains a key issue in development, especially given the complexity of the autonomous car itself

The digitisation of driving is the key driving force behind the connected car. Computers and sensors in car components, and on the roads themselves, will assimilate sophisticated data, changing everything from how we navigate and avoid traffic to how we find the nearest available parking spot.

Tesla vehicles come with software “autopilots”. Uber is piloting self-driving taxis with Volvo and Daimler, and Embark have tested autonomous trucks, and the ability of a car to reverse park itself.

The benefits of autonomous vehicles are plenty, from reducing transport costs to carbon emissions and saving hundreds of millions of hours wasted on conventional transport.