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  1. #1
    The Eighth Colour Octarine's Avatar
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    Default Cars that drive themselves!

    In several thread in the past, there has been discussion about autonomous vehicles. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Driverless_car

    This technology has actually undergone some serious improvements over the last 10 years or so. Partially due to large financial investments in the defence industry, but also because it is one of those pervasive ideas in society - we've all wondered about the day that cars will drive themselves. See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DARPA_Grand_Challenge

    Now around 15 years ago, cars started to become more sophisticated technology wise, with the development of active stability controls (oh and my favourite - active yaw control), automated emergency braking technologies as well as automated parking. In terms of defence technology, great strides were made in terms of autonomous aviation, in terms of pattern/target recognition. (Eg. you really need your drone to tell the difference between a civilian aircraft, an enemy target, a missile, or a flock of birds!).

    Of course on the road, vehicular communication systems are necessary, both in terms of navigation (GPS), but also in terms of optimising traffic flow. Imagine cars that had both sophisticated detection techniques as well as the ability to communicate with each other, so you rarely if ever had to stop at intersections? On the other hand, you tend to question what happens if the system fails, or someone hacks the system?

    Right now, we have companies like Google investing a lot of money in civilian technology and it looks likely that we will see such cars to be retailed sometime in the foreseeable future. These cars have already been legalised (within certain restrictions) in Nevada.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_driverless_car
    http://www.engadget.com/2011/03/03/g...r-a-wild-ride/
    http://www.ted.com/talks/sebastian_t...rless_car.html


    And the there is the fact that some people actually enjoy driving. It makes you wonder about concepts such as recreational driving. (not necessarily racing)

    Speaking of racing, don't get the idea that autonomous cars are going to be slow passive drivers:

    [YOUTUBE="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMdcWHnbhsw&feature=player_embedded"]Google Prius[/YOUTUBE]

    [YOUTUBE="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YaGJ6nH36uI"]Google Prius[/YOUTUBE]

    Several autonomous vehicles have also tackled Pikes Peak, although they were slower than a racing driver, it is still an amazing achievement.
    http://www.wired.com/autopia/2010/11...bs-pikes-peak/
    (video in link)

    And the first achievement:
    http://www.prweb.com/releases/2006/07/prweb407606.htm

    Or for a more boring civilian video of an autonomous car driving though traffic:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Brmor...eature=related

    Oh and as a side note, we also have technology that assists blind drivers! http://www.wired.com/autopia/2011/02...lind-to-drive/

  2. #2
    Vaguely Precise Seymour's Avatar
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    Default

    Yeah, the Google car tests on actual highways are heartening... as is the possibility for far better traffic optimization. Of course, there's that "big brother" aspect, too.

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