The full benefits of autonomous cars—a drastic drop in fatal crashes, more efficient driving, the chance to master Clash of Clans while commuting—are at least five years away. Automakers and tech companies must perfect software. Insurance companies have to recalculate premiums. Regulators are thinking up fresh rules.

But one part of the puzzle’s been solved: the hardware. The physical elements crucial for seeing and navigating the world have been developed. Some are already in production. And they’re surprisingly cheap.

The cost of self-driving cars isn’t often discussed, mostly because we’re still years from commercial production, and because there are much tougher questions to answer before we can talk money. But a new report on the market for and development of self-driving cars, by the Boston Consulting Group, offers some estimates. And partly thanks to that affordable hardware, they’re not that high.


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