Tired of driving? Soon hitting the road will be as simple as pressing a button, sitting back, and relaxing while a hard drive does all the work.

Depending on where you live, most people rely on their cars. This leads to some staggering statistics: over 33,000 Americas are killed every year in car accidents; 1.2 million killed around the world. The autonomous car will greatly reduce those rates and make driving safer for everyone. We may not have the flying cars of “The Jetsons” yet, but this is certainly a welcomed improvement.

To understand how close we are to seeing self-driving cars on the road, Big Think sat down with Brad Templeton, a renowned software architect and a consultant on Google’s driverless car project, at Exponential Finance, presented by Singularity University & CNBC. What do we have to look forward to, according to Templeton? These cars will be lighter, electric, and intelligent.

“We're going to rewrite really important elements of our society when we make transportation one of these computerized technologies,” says Templeton. “It's going to change a lot more of our lives than people think to have cars that are smart in this way.”

By 2020, “smart cars” (not the German brand—Smart—currently out on the market) will be popping up on freeways. Will their popularity spread like the smart phone craze? Templeton is optimistic, especially given their amazing potential to transform the world.

“These vehicles are so efficient that they don't just beat out the cars we're riding in now, they beat out the trains and the buses, even in Manhattan, even in Japan,” he says. “That's how efficient small lightweight electric vehicles can be at carrying people in terms of energy used to send a person a mile.”

The rise of smart cars will transform geo-politics. Oil rich countries like Russia and Saudi Arabia will be disrupted by this technology as earth-friendly vehicles take over. “This would mean the United States would no longer have to import oil from overseas,” he says. “It also means reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 200 million tons.”

For more on Templeton’s insights into smart cars, visit his Robocars site, and watch this clip from Big Think’s interview: