Ok, call me a hopeless Neanderthal—a throwback to earlier times when steering wheels and brake pedals seemed like a reasonable idea for controlling a few thousand tons of steel hurtling down our streets and highways.

That could be changing with the advent of the robot car—an invention that might dispense with these handy devices we have traditionally considered of some importance for operating the current antique contraptions.

With computers taking charge, will a driver’s license become somewhat redundant? After all we have been sending people up to the moon for decades in giant space vehicles which can navigate extra-terrestrial routes with minimal need for pilot guidance.

So why not apply the same technology to the earthbound driving population?

Of course traffic on the heavenly highways is a lot less cluttered and dangerous and riders can enjoy the views without much fear of colliding with anything except a stray meteor or two.

That does not apply to the over 212 million licensed drivers in the U.S.—over 30 million in California alone.

However, will they be safer in driverless cars as automotive innovators contend? Or are we encouraging a driving experience fraught with perils yet unforeseen that will create a regulatory nightmare and may never acquire the timeless popularity of the old-fashioned generally reliable four-wheeler?

As importantly, with the recent announcement by the U.S. Department of Transportation that it intends to put its full resources behind this technology, is the Obama Administration about to take a gamble on an initiative that has little guarantee of any long-term viability? The price tag over the next 10 years: a measly $4 billion!

California–long the invention capitol of the nation— hit the assembly line with its first driverless hybrids as early as 2013 and Governor Jerry Brown is ready to put the state’s financial clout behind accelerated testing.

What is likely to happen to insurance rates as California will have to sort out the knotty risk factors that accompany such scary innovations?

These are just a few of the imponderables at the dawning of the Autonomous Car Age!

While statistics about improved safety by employing robot cars are sketchy at best, since September 2014, Google reports that drivers in test vehicles have been forced take control “341 times” either because problems were detected by the car’s sophisticated instrumentation or the drivers were justifiably worried about potential collisions.

With many other experimenters vying for bragging rights, including Tesla, Volkswagen, Uber, Lyft and Apple, to name just a few California entries, such incidents have yet to be compiled in any meaningful numbers.

Nor have tests been done on icy terrain, steep and curvy roads or in heavy commutes. .

Google’s demos have so far been confined to its Silicon Valley campus and Austin, Texas when it has test-driven a mere 49 autonomous cars between September and November of 2014 which would have been responsible for 8 of the 11 accidents avoided only because of human intervention. That is the equivalent of hands-on takeover 10 times per driving year.

The New York Times reported in a January 18th story that one Tesla owner who had his car on “autopilot” during a 22-mile drive from Palo Alto to Lake Tahoe was forced to take command of the car “more than a dozen times.”

Perhaps the chance for human error can be reduced, but what about mechanical malfunctions? When split second decisions are required which even robots with the highest IQs might flub, little distractions could have serious consequences.

California has decided wisely not take such chances—not yet anyway— and will still require steering wheels and brake pedals in the event of inattentive robots.

Still, that will not prevent mindless operators who happen to be absorbed on their cell phone or admiring the scenery from avoiding accidents.

If the traffic court calendars are already filled, this will likely make for some very entertaining court battles. Is the robot going to be held liable for missing the stop sign or the absent-minded driver?

Before we plough billions into this ingenious technology that could make the driver all but superfluous, how about fixing the thousands of miles of crumbling roads and highways that even robots will appreciate?