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I'm Not Driving, My Car Is!

I'm Not Driving, My Car Is!

We've invented a vacuum cleaner that can clean a room without being pushed by a human, robot girlfriends that kiss and dance on command, and a peanut butter and jelly swirl that comes in one jar, so why should a car that can drive itself be that far on the horizon?

According to auto researchers, it's not. In as few as 20 years we could have vehicles that will be programmed to navigate the mean streets on their own. Will we still need our licenses? Who knows, but the director of General Motors' electrical and integration laboratory, Nady Boules claims, "All of this will be made possible and practical by use of computers, sensors, and radio transmitters, and I think we are coming to realize that they can operate a vehicle or even a plane better than humans can behind the wheel."

If self driving cars sound more like science fiction than science fact, consider that much of the technology required for such vehicles already exists today—or will in the next few years. Mercedes Benz, Lexus and Infiniti already have a system called adaptive cruise control, which uses radar sensors to maintain speed between vehicles and sends a signal to the braking system if it detects an object in the road.

Aside from allowing you to apply all your make-up and eat a cheeseburger while en route to your job interview, self-driving cars will also offer many other practical benefits. Benefits that include fewer accidents and the elimination of heavy components like steel bumpers (lighter cars have better fuel efficiency). In addition, drivers with poor eyesight will be able to count on their vehicle for guidance.

Will you be ready to let your new car take control of the road in 20 years? [MSNBC]

Posted: 7/14/08