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A prototype driverless car on demonstration around the roads of East London in 2017. (Philip Toscano/PA Images via Getty Images)

Driverless cars may evoke images from sci-fi films to Saturday morning cartoons, but the prospect is hardly remote now. While Americans today cannot purchase a fully autonomous vehicle, there are some cars that already operate with minimal human assistance and others that are expected to be able to run without human drivers in the future. Several companies like Google’s parent company Alphabet and Amazon have been piloting these vehicles in cities around the U.S. for years.

These advancements have the potential to create both new opportunities and less desirable outcomes. Proponents say driverless vehicles could reduce the stress of commuting, lower the number of accidents and make traveling more sustainable. But critics have raised a number of concerns – ranging from safety risks, to cost, to their potential to hurt the environment by making…

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