The Buzz is looking at sciencefiction becoming tomorrow's reality - the self-driving car"
California Governor Jerry Brown rode to Google headquarters in a self-driven Toyota Prius before signing legislation that will pave the way for driverless cars in California.
Using increasingly sophisticated sensors and software, driverless cars hold out the promise of saving lives,fuel, and time. They react more quickly to accident threats. They don't panic. They can tie into traffic grids and do a much better job of balancing traffic flows. They can optimize fuel consumption. We already trust a lot to technology when we drive. We generally believe traffic signals and respond to GPS guidance and traffic congestion reports. We expect speed and fuel flows to respond properly when we use cruise controls. We use digitized cameras and back-up sensors. Newer cars monitor weather conditions and automatically trigger any number of safety responses. Increasingly, we even pay for auto insurance using on-board computers to record where and how we are driving. And many of these functions are voice-activated on newer vehicles.
Not sure if you’d trust a computer to drive your car? Europe has an automated alternative that may suit you better. The SAfe Road TRains for the Envrionment project (SARTRE) is developing a convoy system that would slave a string of cars to the directions of the professional driver leading the pack. The road-train conductor drives, everyone else relaxes in their cabin as automated systems maintain the correct speed and distance from the leader. These packs of vehicles would travel down the highway at 55+ mph (90 km/h). Such car platoons would supposedly cut down on congestion, improve safety, and reduce environmental impact by increasing fuel efficiency.