Visions of the future often come with images of an easier life. Advancements in tech often streamline things we currently enjoy in the modern world. The concept of the self-driving car reflects the grandest visions of how tech can make transportation become incredibly easier in the future. How far off is that future of cars capable of driving by themselves? The average follower of tech news may think in terms of decades. The management at General Motors, however, present much more optimistic figures.

GM President Dan Ammann has stated the arrival of self-driving vehicles shall come in “quarters, not years.” When words such as these come from a major executive, the words resonate. A person in as high-profile of a position as Ammann wouldn’t make a hyperbolic statement if it wasn’t based on realistic expectations.

Currently, GM continues to run a massive self-driving car testing program. Measures of success are not based on mere simply functionality. GM isn’t producing a large-scale version of a radio-controlled toy. The company wants to release a revolutionary fleet of cars capable of driving all over the world. Safety, of course, remains a top concern. Efficiency stands as a top priority as well.

The testing often focuses on comparisons between self-driving cars and human performance. Interestingly, GM does not wish to merely match human performance on the road. The goal is to exceed human performance in the self-driving models. Exceeding human capabilities becomes critical for the overall potential success of self-driving cars in the market. Matching human capabilities is one thing, but the ability to exceed those capabilities creates a much stronger selling point.

Self-driving technology harkens a bold new era in transportation. It also heralds a dramatic change in the way people ride in vehicles. Turning over safety to a software program controlling a vehicle may be very difficult for a significant number of consumers. Enticements beyond the offer of added convenience become necessary to move those customers. Significantly improving human performance could be that enticement.