18 Jan 2013

Self-driving cars just around the corner

The concept of a driverless car once seemed like science fiction, but it could be here faster than you think. It began in 2005 with the Google team developing the robotic vehicle Stanley which won the DARPA Grand Challenge (a prize competition for American driverless vehicles, funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency).  Google are now operating a fleet of autonomous cars in California and Nevada, successfully lobbying for new laws in 2011 for these driverless cars to operate on public roads. We are now closer than ever before to your car driving you to work, or dropping your kids off at school. Car makers such as Mercedes Benz, Toyota and Audi have all unveiled prototypes for self-driving cars in the last few months, but Mercedes are confident that they will be the first to release their autonomous car, flagging a date of later this year. But is the technology safe? Transport NSW has labeled the technology as a major risk to road users, but advocates suggest that it cuts the risk of accidents due to the reduction of dangerous behaviors such as driver distraction and fatigue. There is also the possibility of autonomous vehicles reducing congestion, which is currently a major concern in almost all major cities. But what do you think- would you would be comfortable in an autonomous car? Would you buy one?