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Self-Driving Cars Are Just Around the Corner

— Filed under: Breaking News, Science & Technology
Congestion caused by a road accident, Algarve,...

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Goodbye traffic jams?

Who among us hasn't daydreamed about cars that could drive themselves? Dream no more — that sort of technology is literally just around the corner, as Google has been test-driving these new cars on over 100,000 miles of California road. Not surprisingly, the computer-controlled vehicles are safer than human drivers, with only one accident in all that testing, and even that one was caused by human error.

Other benefits include better fuel efficiency, less-maddening traffic jams (computers aren't inclined to slow down to rubber-neck at accidents as they pass, which should be less frequent anyway), and the ability for the passengers to engage in other pursuits, like checking their Gmail accounts. Presumably Google would also attempt to harness the potential of its cloud computing endeavors, with these new vehicles collaborating and communicating with each other to improve performance even further.

Traffic congestion on northbound Interstate 5 ...

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The day the machines take over

According to experts, the earliest we'll see these self-driving cars is eight years from now. Undoubtedly coming soon after that are "Sponsored by Goooogle" listings on your windshield, complete with pay-per-park advertisement programs for roadside businesses hoping to drum up sales.

For those of you wondering exactly how these self-driving cars would work, Marshall Brain from HowStuffWorks.com breaks it down in detail, but suggests it will be 30 to 40 years before computers are able to match the human brain in pound-for-pound ability.

How realistic is this new technology? Will we live to see it implemented? It stands to reason that China's recent "worst traffic jam ever" could have been solved in a matter of hours if computers had been put to work sorting it out, and that many of the world's traffic trouble spots could be eased or outright eliminated. But would you entrust your life to a computer-controlled car?

NeumannD7's picture

Something is definitely up

Something is definitely up with google, they are hedging their bets against the decline of search

They are investing heavily in wind power, may be connected to the car thing.   http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2010/oct/12/google-invests-wind-pow...

Hewy's picture

Sinister!

A sinister development. Something I've been researching for sometime and now the British press have caught up.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2010/nov/21/military-robots-autonom...

Kuncen's picture

Volkswagen's TAP

Volkswagen has debuted something they call "Temporary Auto-Pilot" or TAP, which serves to protect inattentive drivers from themselves.  And also the rest of us.  :)

http://www.popsci.com/cars/article/2011-06/volkswagen-debuts-self-drivin...

Kuncen

Gidoma4r's picture

I was thinking about this

I was thinking about this when I was driving an SUV from my favorite SUV Rental. I don't think self-driving cars are impossible but it would take years to implement. I don't think 8 years is enough because aside from the complexities along the way, there would be a lot of issues such as safety, energy consumption, cost and the list goes on.