Yes, you read correctly. It might sound like an idea out of a science fiction novel but it’s happening right now in laboratories and on the road. Driverless automobiles are the next game-changing technology coming to the automotive industry and chances are the consumers will not be ready.
Just as with any technology, there are always the early adopter types that will want to be the first into the tent, regardless of what’s taking place inside. Others surely will be much more hesitant and may even avoid traveling on roads while the first few years of driverless cars get underway. Preliminary findings suggest that adding automation or driverless technology to automobiles may actually reduce traffic accidents and driving related injuries, if properly configured.
Obviously, a major hurdle in ever seeing this fascinating technology come to fruition is the difficulty of the infrastructure system and whether there will ever be sufficient incentive or means for the state or federal governments to invest the needed resources in beefing up roadways with proper accommodations to assist this technology.
Regardless of the natural fit not being in place for these self-driving vehicles to begin operation or even go into production, there have been quite a great deal of successful road tests already undertaken by the Google Self-Driving Car. Aptly titled, the software application that will replace yourself at the helm of the vehicle, Google Chauffeur is the working project name for the four-wheeled wonder humming around California mated to a Toyota Prius power-train.
On March 1, 2012, the State of Nevada was the first US state to issue a driving license to a driverless or autonomous vehicle, the very same Google-powered Prius. Since then, the little robot car has racked up just shy of a million miles and it’s not stopping now. The technology has been mated to a number of vehicles so far including a few Lexus RX450h, an Audi TT and about 7 Toyota Prius.
In May 2014, Google released the first prototype that does not even have a steering wheel, gas pedal or brake. Until recently, these vehicles were tested with two Google employees that could override the system at any time in the vehicle. Now that most kinks are worked out, tests without human subjects in the vehicles have begun and it won’t be long before you can consider buying a car with this space-age technology included.
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