Christmas is just a couple of days away, so there are people rushing all over Paducah to get those last-minute gifts, crucial holiday meal ingredients and to complete ordinary tasks that come up whether or not the holidays are upon us.

We would all love to avoid the traffic jams and frustrations of driving at this time of the year, but in the Christmas present, holiday travel congestion is for all practical purposes unavoidable. However, it is possible that in a Christmas future not too far off, self-driving cars will alleviate our holiday driving blues. It is possible that autonomous vehicles will one day soon virtually eliminate motor vehicle wrecks, injuries and fatalities.

At least that’s what artificial intelligence expert Dr. Lance B. Eliot wrote recently in Forbes.

Eliot notes that he is referring to the self-driving cars of the future – vehicles that will be entirely autonomous – in which no human input will be required to steer, brake, turn or accelerate. Today’s self-driving cars still require people to share the duties and responsibilities of driving. They’re semi-autonomous – equipped with Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems (ADAS) – and do not qualify as fully and completely autonomous, Eliot writes.

He points out that we don’t even know yet what all those vehicles of the future will be able to do, or when they will arrive on car dealer floors.

Eliot also urges caution to owners of today’s ADAS-equipped vehicles, writing that “we all need to avoid being misled into believing that the driver can take away their attention from the driving task while driving a semi-autonomous car.”

But in the vehicles to come? Everyone inside will be a passenger. Frustrations will fade away, because you won’t be the one piloting the vehicle. You’ll be able to sit back and let AI handle determine which route will get you to your destination as quickly and safely as possible. You’ll be able to enjoy a movie, book, Skype, cocktail or whatever you like enroute.

Not only will holiday driving be stressfree, but so will rush hour driving and those long vacation trips, shot journeys to the store, and so on.

While some might dismiss Eliot’s speculation as unrealistic and utopian, others are eagerly looking forward to a safe, calm trip to the mall just days before a Christmas future.