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Driverless cars seemed like an impossibility even 10 years ago. But no longer. Major advances in laser, camera and other technologies have made companies able to design vehicles that can sense where they are on the road and respond accordingly. According to the latest research, these cars could be on the market by the end of this decade. Meaning six more years. Sounds like a long time to wait, especially if you’re a teenager and just getting your license. But for those types who have five-year spending plans and want to start saving money now, this news comes at the perfect time.

Google has led the pack in research of driverless vehicles, by testing Toyota and Lexus models that can be driven using Google software alone. Google expects its “autonomous driving system” to be available by 2018. Check out this link for a look at Google’s efforts:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdgQpa1pUUE&list=PLcNF6Ihx2JoUoNKe4PxLqEcZMM0QW2yG-

While we wait for driverless car perfection, we can turn to companies that already equip their vehicles with human-free features. Mercedes-Benz models available in Europe, for example, can navigate themselves in low-speed situations, such as heavy traffic. They sense the proximity of vehicles ahead, allowing them to speed up or slow down while staying in a single lane. Some Volvos have radar that scans for pedestrians; when the car gets too close to one, the system engages the brakes. And when Bosch’s Automatic Parking Assistant System becomes available next year drivers will be able to park their cars from outside their vehicles, using a smartphone.

http://www.bosch.com/en/com/boschglobal/automated_driving/technology_for_greater_safety/pagination_1.html)

In order for driverless cars to become the norm, though, lots more needs to happen. Aside from testing multiple models, private companies will have to work with government agencies that regulate communications, figuring out how much high speed Internet access, or broadband space, driverless cars can claim. At this point, cable companies and smart phones are major users of broadband.

Smart car developers and transportation officials will also need to develop standards of communication between self-propelled vehicles, so that cars are able to respond to one another. Then, there are the legal concerns about collisions that might occur. Who, for example, is responsible in a collision between a pedestrian and a smart car – the owner of the car, or the “driver,” who in this case, is the manufacturer? This question, and others like it, could support a whole new category of legal theory. Finally, for smart cars to actually work properly, the environment around them needs an upgrade, too. Countless stop lights, stop signs and street signs – to name just a few examples – need to be equipped with sensors that can guide smart cars in their navigational tasks. Information for this article comes in part from “Automakers, Engineers See Big Possibilities Soon for Driverless Cars” by Glenn Garvin, published March 21, 2014 in The Miami Herald.

http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/03/16/3998663/auto-makers-say-theyll-begin-selling.html
 

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