By Natasha Brown

PHILADELPHIA (CBS)–By the end of the year,  some driverless cars will be on the highways.

So, which companies are racing to put their models to the test?

The future is near. What once seemed like something out of a science fiction movie, far into the future, could become reality very quickly.

Manufacturers are putting the pedal to the medal on developing fully autonomous or self-driving cars.

“There are roughly 20 different auto makers who are saying by 2020 they’ll have fully autonomous vehicles in the market,” said car expert Mike Caudill.

From Ford to Toyota and the list goes on.

“When you talk about real autonomy it’s about taking your hands off the wheel and being able to focus on other things inside the car,” said Caudill.

That’s different from a semi-autonomous car that needs a driver, but the car can break for you and change lanes like Tesla’s auto-pilot feature.

Tesla did hit a road bump when a driver was killed using auto pilot.

“If autonomous cars aren’t done right, they may introduce new forms of fatalities that could replace the old and may be unnecessary,” said attorney Jonathan Handel.

According to the National Safety Council, up to 40,000 people die in car crashes yearly.

PennDOT statistics show that in 2015 Pennsylvania saw the second lowest number of traffic fatalities on record with 1,200. Local experts say fully autonomous cars may lower that number even more.

“We have a long way to go to see how safety will look for them,” said Alex Quistberg, who’s an associate research professor at Drexel University.

He sees the initial safety benefits, with sensors on autonomous cars reducing human error.

“If we think about the major causes of road fatalities–speeding, distraction alcohol or drug-induced driving–those are all things that could be reduced by having a fully autonomous vehicle,” he says.

While some may be hesitant to embrace the new technology it’s not slowing the development process.

Uber is working on a driverless car with Ford.

DMV’s around the country are working on regulations as we may see driverless cars on the roads by the end of the year.

“You’re gonna be able to do anything you do in your living room in your car. The vehicles gonna take you from point a to point b,” said Caudill.

Giving you the freedom to just sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.