Look, no hands! The driverless future of driving is here
The driverless car 'Made in Germany' (MIG), being put through its paces at Berlin's Tempelhof airport, October 13, 2010.
February 22nd, 2012
07:27 AM ET

Look, no hands! The driverless future of driving is here

By Doug Gross, CNN

Will there be a time in our lives when cars don’t crash? When a Mustang can warn a BMW that it’s changing lanes – or when we can just sit back and relax and our cars will drive themselves?

Auto technology experts say “yes." And they say that some of those advances may happen quicker than you might think.

“We are seeing just seismic changes as we speak,” said Scott Belcher, president and CEO of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America.

Founded in 1991 as an advisory committee to the U.S. Department of Transportation, ITSA is now an independent non-profit that advocates for technology that will improve the safety and efficiency of cars and trucks.

On Tuesday, Consumer Reports announced that it now supports vehicle-to-vehicle communication technology – systems that essentially let cars talk to each other, helping avoid accidents in the process.

In the wake of the announcement, we chatted with Belcher about that and other tech that could be changing the way we drive (presumably for the better) in the next few years.

On vehicle-to-vehicle technology

"That's going to be our next major safety advance - on par with airbags or safety belts,” Belcher said.

Belcher said studies suggest that as many as 81 percent of “non-impaired” crashes could be avoided through vehicle-to-vehicle communication, which uses a dedicated part of the radio spectrum that’s been set aside by the federal government.

“That’s pretty huge,” he said. “That’s a big, big number.”

His group plans a pilot program in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in which 3,000 cars will be equipped with the tech. Results will help highway-safety officials to decide whether to require the system in the future.

On cars that drive themselves

At first glance it seems like the stuff of science fiction. But Belcher said fully automated cars could be close at hand. In fact, he said, what might ultimately keep them off the road could be us.

“The question is going to be not whether we can do autonomous vehicles, but how much autonomy we are willing to put up with as a culture. We don’t really like to give up control of our vehicles," he said.

“But if you look at where we are today – the adaptive cruise control is semi-autonomous. Cars that park themselves – that’s autonomous. You’ve got buses that operate in rapid transit systems that, for the most part, are autonomous.”

He noted that Google has logged more than 200,000 miles with a driverless car in Nevada (where lawmakers are considering legislation to allow automated driving) and a challenge by the U.S. military’s DARPA in which contestants successfully piloted automated cars in an urban setting.

“It’s out there. But how quickly and how much we see it is really going to be dictated by society, not technology,” he said. “It’s going to be the liability issues, the control issues that are going to prevent it.

Volvo has a system that scans for pedestrians moving into the path of the vehicle and can even apply the brakes  to avoid hitting someone.

Society’s technology ‘tipping point’

Part of the reason car tech is moving so quickly, Belcher said, is that the public is demanding it and car manufacturers know they have to meet that demand or lose out to another company that does.

“We’ve become a society that has become dependent on our phones and dependent on our access to technology and our access to communication networks,” he said. “The car is just becoming an extension of that. We can’t imagine we’re going to lose that connectivity as soon as we get in the car.”

“We’re at this tipping point in society right now and it’s going to be fascinating to watch it play out. The cat’s out of the bag, so to speak.”

Automated cars, for example, could become a reality because of pressure from both ends of the driving spectrum.

For the oldest drivers, automation could become a way to keep driving longer, Belcher said. And for the youngest, car tech that lets them stay engaged with their other gadgets may eventually have more appeal than, say, stomping on the pedal of a 1970 Dodge Charger.

“They could care less about that,” he said. “They just want to play with their phone.”

The spread of existing, high-end tech

It’s a constant in the tech world. Be it DVD players or smartphones or 3D televisions, the early adopters are going to pay a premium to say they were first. But as production ramps up and becomes more efficient, the price drops.

In the car world, that could mean more of us will see high-tech safety features that only come equipped on the fanciest cars right now.

Belcher specifically mentioned rear-view cameras, which activate an in-dash screen when the driver is backing up, showing objects that may be hard to see normally.

Also in line to make the trip from high-end luxury to standard feature? "Adaptive” cruise control that will automatically shift speed when you get too close to another car, and vehicles that automatically send you signals when someone is in your blind spot or if you stray from your lane.

Automakers also are testing augmented-reality windshields, controlled by hand gestures from the front seat, that would display real-time info about passing landmarks.

What does it all mean?

“If we can make cars that don’t crash, then think about what that does to the cars we can build,” Belcher said. “Right now, what we build is cars that help you survive when you crash. But if you don’t crash, do we really need to two tons of metal? Can you use other materials?”

One possibility? The “weird, tiny” cars of the future.

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Filed under: Future • Innovation • Science • Tech
soundoff (660 Responses)
  1. Dave M

    First I would like to see how it functions in snow and ice, when your engine just dies or when as I’ve seen, the wheel of another car just falls off. How would it operate if not all vehicles were using it?

    February 23, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Reply
  2. Tom

    I can't wait for this feature to be in every car. It's great for the Elderly. When this finally comes out I can finally tell my DAD,, "Go to Atlantic City on your own DAMNIT!!!!".. lol... Can't wait.. :-)

    February 23, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Reply
  3. notboblevy

    I am in no way a lead foot, but I find this quote oh so sad...
    "And for the youngest, car tech that lets them stay engaged with their other gadgets may eventually have more appeal than, say, stomping on the pedal of a 1970 Dodge Charger.
    “They could care less about that,” he said. “They just want to play with their phone.”"
    Indicative of the lazy, heads-down society we are rapidly becoming. Surrogates anyone?

    -not bob levy

    February 23, 2012 at 11:34 am | Reply
    • doughnuts

      It depends on your view of cars. To me, they are simply a mode of transportation. All I want out of a car is that it get me from point-A to point-B with a minimum of fuss, expense, and discomfort.

      February 23, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Reply
  4. Ed

    Leave it to a bunch of geeks to take the fun out of everything! I prefer to drive myself and not depend on some microprocessor to determine were I'm going! You guys are REALLY OVER THE EDGE.

    February 23, 2012 at 11:21 am | Reply
    • doughnuts

      It was geeks that created cars and all the gadgets that go in them. Heck, it was geeks that invented the road surface you drive on.

      February 23, 2012 at 12:43 pm | Reply
      • Myto Senseworth

        Are you referring to the new road surface designs that need repair every year? You couldn't be talking about the roads built hundreds of years ago that are still in use......

        February 23, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
  5. engineer long time

    We need more public transportation, not more cars.

    February 23, 2012 at 10:17 am | Reply
  6. engineer long time

    I had a guy try to rob me at gun point. The only defense I had was my car. I reacted by trying to hit him with my car. He moved in time to avoid injury and gave me time to get away. How will this car react to that situation? It would probably take control in order to protect what it thought was an pedestrian in the way. .......No thanks. I want the wheel.

    February 23, 2012 at 10:12 am | Reply
    • rj

      Because that scenario has happened millions of times like deaths from drunk driving and texting.

      February 23, 2012 at 11:19 am | Reply
    • webknight18

      U would still be able to control the vehicle. There will most probably be an option to either have the car in automatic mode or manual mode. No one is going to build a car where u do not have any control.

      February 23, 2012 at 11:49 am | Reply
  7. Derek

    Most highway accidents are caused by vehicles going different speeds on the same road. Either someone is going to fast or too slow. Of course driver distraction, drunk driving, and mechanical failures are also responsible. But if computers took over driving & forced everyone to go the same speed, except of course exiting & entering a highway, then it would probably reduce many highway accidents.

    February 23, 2012 at 10:01 am | Reply
  8. tyler

    i think that cars mite be able to but no one thought of computer crashes.

    February 23, 2012 at 9:25 am | Reply
  9. AlexK

    I heard an interview with someone from Google who was working on this project. He said that after they have worked out all the bugs with the system the question will not be whether or not we let automated card drive people around. The question will be will we still let people drive cars around.

    They have already logged 200,000 miles of driving in Nevada without a single accident. There are still some areas I think need to be worked out. What happens if you pull up to a police officer waiving traffic to a detour route? If they can work this out I'll be one of the first people to shell out the cash to get this. Road trips would be easy. Get into the car with your pillow and blanket and when you wake up you are 500 miles closer to your destination.

    February 23, 2012 at 8:26 am | Reply
    • Kurt

      Actually, detours would be trivial to handle. You don't need a police to wave traffic around detours, you are still thinking old school: Police will just set up, via radio update, new waypoints to the onboard gps. My gps already gets traffic updates. Once the kinematic issues are solved, and it sounds like they pretty much are, the rest are technically simple infrastructure. Of course technically simple doesn't mean cheap to implement, but there would also be substantial cost savings in many areas, so a gradual replacment of the infrastructure, on the balance, will be cost effective.

      February 24, 2012 at 10:01 pm | Reply
  10. Chad

    Not sure if there are any photographers out there, but any Nikon enthusiasts will see the parallels here. With a Nikon lens, there's a switch labeled "A/M" or "M/A" that controls the focusing. When on, this allows 100% automatic focusing, computer-controlled. But the instant you place your hand on the focusing ring, the manual overrides the automatic. Then it goes seamlessly back to automatic.

    That's kind of how I envision this driverless system. Think of it as more of an assistive technology than a controlling one. You're on the interstate and engage the auto system and read your book or play "Angry Birds." In time, you see a sign for something you want to check out at the exit ahead, so when you get there, you simply place your hands on the wheel, and steer off onto the exit. Instantly, seamlessly, the car becomes a standard manually controlled vehicle again. Some of you people make it sound like we'd be a bunch of little automatons being driven around and controlled by our cars, totally at the mercy of whatever the car's computer wanted us to do.

    February 23, 2012 at 4:41 am | Reply
    • MOCaseA

      I love the idea of that. I work in areas that require me to stop and show Identification to access. Something like a seamless transition between the automated (say the long dull 42 mile one way drive to and from work) and the manual (like when I get to the access gates to my work area) would rock. Integrate into it an uplink to traffic control so it knows when a traffic signal is a red light, yellow or green and you'd have a damn good vehicle.

      February 23, 2012 at 6:01 am | Reply
    • jon

      angry birds is such a stupid game suited for child like IQ's and attention spans.

      February 23, 2012 at 6:28 am | Reply
      • LeyLineWalker

        His entire message and that's what you latch onto? Did Angry Birds wrong you in some way?


        February 23, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
  11. Nodack

    Can you imagine? No more drunk driving. You can party with your friends at the bar and your car safely drives you home afterwards.

    February 23, 2012 at 1:41 am | Reply
    • drew

      you're thinking too small. you could have the party in your car/van/trailer and drink in there while the car drives. yeah, i know, i just blew your simple mind.

      February 23, 2012 at 2:48 am | Reply
    • echoLogin

      Your both thinking small , im gonna have a party get drunk and send both your cars auto piloting into a lake or ocean.

      February 23, 2012 at 4:19 am | Reply
  12. Elmore Frank Brown Jr

    I forgot to add about the solar the solar panel charge the batteries. What do you think? Please let me know? It is my idea. I want some feed back. Thanks.

    February 23, 2012 at 12:17 am | Reply
  13. Elmore Frank Brown Jr

    That a great idea that only for new cars not old car? I have a nother great idea you know they make electric cars and gas. I was thinking why not have a solar panel on the edge or on back of the car so when it charge by light or sun and it will charge all day without charging it. If the solar can not charge then use gas. What do you think? Please let me know? It is my idea

    February 23, 2012 at 12:12 am | Reply
    • James

      Your an IDIOT. This isnt your idea, wow dude. You must be like 12 or something? This IDEA ALREADY EXISTS! You think your 12 year old idea can compete with the Engineers with University Degrees and 20+ years of car research behind their belt??? Afterall, it ISNT YOUR IDEA.

      February 23, 2012 at 1:58 am | Reply
      • Precious

        Wow dude do you have like a anger issue but i do agree they have been trying to do this for a long time and im 12 and i know what you mean. I am very touched by your comment.

        February 23, 2012 at 10:29 am |
  14. wavejump1100

    cars will always crash. i am sure these systems can dramaticaly reduce crashes but what happens when the car gets old? the last thing i want is the government telling me when to replace my car. the systems sound great but i will stick with crumple zones seat belts and airbags even with the collision avoidance technology

    February 22, 2012 at 7:55 pm | Reply
  15. Jedi888

    total recall, anyone? Just hope that taxi cab driver doesn't cross the wrong wire.

    February 22, 2012 at 6:57 pm | Reply
  16. IPRTS

    taxi cab manikins will be the new small business investment...

    February 22, 2012 at 5:52 pm | Reply
  17. Jeremy

    I for one welcome this idea. Imagine driving to vegas, and putting on auto drive so you can do something else with your buddies in the car, or that long road trip home to visit family. When you get hungry and you stop to get something to eat letting your car drive for you while you eat something. if you fall asleep behind the wheel you don't die, or kill someone else. The list goes on and on. I think that the only way this technology will work though is if it is hybrid. The ability to control the car manually for offloading for example, what the computer might not do you would. Having a sport option, obviously for certain cars only, so you can push the vehicle to its limits on a track, SCCA anyone? However, people that say this is terrible are probably the same ones that speed past you on the freeway because its just so much fun to break the law. Speaking of that this could prevent high speed chases in the future. i think that there are way to many benefits to this to discredit it.

    February 22, 2012 at 5:24 pm | Reply
  18. engineer long time

    With all the buttons and screens in vehicles today, texting and driving is almost safer than operating a motor vehicle while driving.

    February 22, 2012 at 4:57 pm | Reply
  19. Anon123

    This will never go mainstream. Driving is not only about avoiding crashes..You make a thousand decisions from point A to Point B. When to change the lane? Which route to take? Which gas station to stop at? Slow down to appreciate a new car in the next lane..

    February 22, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Reply
    • Jeremy

      So I think that your statement argues FOR this technology more than you know. You basically said you don't like it because you want to slow down, stop watching the road, and stare at the new pretty car you are passing up. Yup a perfect reason to not have assisted driving.

      February 22, 2012 at 5:27 pm | Reply
      • sean

        So, what is the problem? you would be able to look at the car next to you more. And if all cars are hooked to a central computer system our highways could move twice as many cars and much more quickly. I say this technology starts on expressways (on/off ramps) so that their is a clear spot where it is activated and deactivated.

        February 22, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
  20. K.

    If this becomes normal, I'm walking or riding my bicycle. Period. I work with computers enough even as a teenager to not trust them to drive for me. It's disgusting the amount of technology already in cars. The average American has lost the ability to work on their own vehicles due to technology, and they will soon lose the ability to drive them if we're not careful.
    If this becomes a reality, it's almost definite that the government will step in. People need to remember that the government is not here to babysit us and tell us how we will live our lives, that's our job to decide. If one does not want to get in a car crash, they should learn to drive safely, not ask technology to drive for them.
    "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety. " Benjamin Franklin

    February 22, 2012 at 4:36 pm | Reply
    • menoc

      Jesus Christ! . . . The moon is about to come out!, the political TROLLS are starting to come out of their graves!!! . . . .QUICKLY ! . . . GET THE SILVER BULLETS!!

      February 22, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Reply
    • Joe

      How the heck do you reach a conclusion that involves the government again? From what I see it's a joint effort between industry leaders like VW, BMW, and GOOGLE. The amount of hatred you show is just plainly disgusting and discredits your entire post.

      February 22, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Reply
    • Cedar Rapids

      So you have a technology that could potentially save thousands of lives and you want to moan about it because it isn't 'manual'?

      February 22, 2012 at 5:08 pm | Reply
    • Andre L.

      If so, you should never, ever step in an airplane, whose controls nowadays are 95% or more automatic.

      Moreover, you should never use a GPS navigation device because it "kills your ability to read maps".

      Gosh, even hydraulic powered steering is bad by your reasoning.

      February 23, 2012 at 5:30 am | Reply
    • C

      Love the other comments. Makes you wonder what K does with computers.... re-install DOS?

      February 23, 2012 at 6:31 am | Reply
  21. engineer long time

    I already unplug the unproven crash causing ABS in my vehicles and switch off the dangerous air bags. Both have almost cost me my life and if my brother-in-law had been pined back by that dangerous equipment, he would be dead. Why would anyone want more things that can go bad and cost you your life? ....Oh I forgot...some political figure is getting a cut of the profits.

    February 22, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Reply
    • Joe

      what don't you just stand on top of your car's roof while it's traveling at 65mph? you're certainly much more free that way

      February 22, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Reply
      • menoc

        LOL . . .That was a good one.

        February 22, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      oh jeez, look out everyone its a giant conspiracy......again.

      February 22, 2012 at 5:10 pm | Reply
    • bopupdown

      good example. is some cases an airbag can actualy injure a person. but for the other 99.999% of the time an airbag goes off it is either saving a life or preventing injury. stupid technology.

      February 22, 2012 at 5:36 pm | Reply
    • Michael

      By using a car in the first place you are already using a ridiculous amount of tech that could easily go wrong and cost you your life. Why are ABS and airbags evil but cars not? You tar all technology with the same 'new: therefore rubbish' brush which is of course nonsense, your arguments could apply equally well to cars too.

      Only rational way to think about this is on a case by case basis – if this new tech works well and saves lives then how can you possibly say that it is bad?

      February 22, 2012 at 6:33 pm | Reply
    • Uhhhh.....

      I was in a serious crash some time ago, in which I would not be alive today if i had been wearing the seat-belt.
      However, every single time I get into a car I put my seat-belt on.....

      You must also be insane to think ABS in unproven.... Yea there may have may have been injuries/accidents caused due to ABS failures. These very accidents still would have occurred without ABS in the first place, since when ADS fails the brakes just act like normal brakes.

      On a really rainy day, on a street you feel confident on, know well and one that has little to no children/family presence, take the car out pick up decent speed ( you don't have to break speed limit laws) and slam on the brakes. Do the same thing with ABS turned off... You still going to tell me its unproven technology?

      February 22, 2012 at 6:41 pm | Reply
    • Ignorant

      Again another ignorant individual on the road. Please mail your license back to the DMV and keep your car off the road for the sake of the population. Your the type of individual who causes problems on the road. ABS is an incredible technology and any one with 25+ years of driving experience knows the difference when it comes to a rainy day! The next time your vehicle lies crushed on the side of the road and when I run up to drag you from the burning car, if I don't see a deflated air bag or your seat belt on, I'm leaving your ignorant body where it belongs.

      February 23, 2012 at 3:47 am | Reply
      • Myto Senseworth

        Hello ignorant...try reading the test results...Fatal run-off-road crashes are up 28% with vehicals equiped with ABS. There are some good stories, but it isn't what it should be. There are road conditions where the system is not performing as expected. It needs more development time.

        February 23, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
  22. Adam

    Drunk driving just got a lot more fun.

    February 22, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Reply
    • jj123

      lol !!!!!!!!!!! but what if you get hammered , get in the car , something gos wrong and u half to take it over ?

      February 22, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Reply
    • Kilted Mayhem

      Drunk driving = Drunk Dialing...

      February 22, 2012 at 6:07 pm | Reply
  23. jj123

    ok........... ive thought it over it cant be that bad , its still lessfun though !!! but it dose come with its own problems , computer malfunctions , hackers , expensive repairs sence it is just a computer , ect.... and what do we do with our regular cars now , install that soft ware ( expensive !!!!!! ) , push um off a cliff ( expensive , waistefull , and do yo really want to do that ? 0 . what do we do ????????

    February 22, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Reply
  24. lf

    When this becomes the norm, ownership of cars won't at all be necessary. The car picks you up, drops you off, and then goes to get someone else. A rental car system with a logistics operating system modified from systems like that of delivery trucks.

    February 22, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Reply
    • Muldoon

      My friend, you have quietly hit the nail on the head here.

      February 22, 2012 at 6:01 pm | Reply
  25. jj123

    DOSE ANYONE REELIZE HOW THIS WOULD TAKE ALL THE FUN OUT OF DRIVEING !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 22, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Reply
    • joe

      learn to spell

      February 22, 2012 at 5:59 pm | Reply
    • Chris

      And then people might spend more time learning proper grammar and how to spell. Oh the horror.

      February 22, 2012 at 6:11 pm | Reply
  26. jordanboy101

    I HATE IT !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Look , can anyone else see why this would take all the fun out of driveing . sure , less trafic headaches , but to me theres a feeling behind the wheel of a car that makes it all worth it !!!!!!! this was just some saiftey freeks idea . P.S ~ i agree with the cop thing !

    February 22, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Reply
    • Phillip

      Gee! How horrible! You might have to actually open a book and read instead of driving! Oh, the indignation!

      February 22, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Reply
      • jj123

        really ?

        February 22, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
      • Anon123

        The world wasn't conquered by book readers. It was conquered by horse riders... repeatedly

        February 22, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • Uhhhh.....

      Its a good idea... People need to learn that the open road is not a race track. A race track is a race track.

      Sure I do my occasional speeding, however, I have extreme confidence in my abilities and so do those who enter my car. Problem is I see way to many people, who clearly have no safety consciousness, trying to speed.

      If you want to speed and do some real driving, go to race tracks or take up karting. People need to learn how to actually drive, not just have a license. Trust me a Gov issued license only gets you 20% there, real drivers know where, when and how to speed.

      February 22, 2012 at 6:52 pm | Reply
  27. cyberCMDR

    While people will still be able to drive if they want to, it there is an accident they will have greater liability because they were in control of the car. That fact alone will probably cut down on the number of people who drive manually because they like it.

    What I worry about is the car to car communication. How easy will it be to hack the system, and broadcast whatever you want? Broadcast a message that a car on the road hit the brakes, and watch everybody stop. You could remotely control the local traffic, at least in a detrimental way.

    February 22, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Reply
    • Anon123

      humm..so you think the car companies will pay for when the crash happens because of car's communication mistake?

      February 22, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Reply
    • Jeremy

      you will sign 10 times the paper work to release the manufacturer from any liability. On that note someone else here made a good point all actions taken by the vehicle will be stored, this could be used by insurance companies to pin point the cause of the accident and place the liability where it belongs. No more huge court costs because someone is lying about what happened.

      February 22, 2012 at 5:33 pm | Reply
  28. engineer long time

    OK. So they made a robot with 4 wheels. Big deal!The real answer is to have good public transportation. Our love affair with the horseless carriage has been going on too long and wastes too much fuel. Not to mention the miles and miles of roads to maintain. Let us apply the human intelligence we seam to be so proud of and put your research dollars where we need them.

    February 22, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Reply
    • SMM

      I couldn't agree with you more. A better public transportation system locally and nationally is the long term solution to many problems including our dependence on oil.

      February 22, 2012 at 6:03 pm | Reply
  29. Dave

    The biggest opposition to Self Driving Vehicles will not be the drivers. It will be the police departments. If the Driver...i mean passanger..can get from point A to point B without having to touch the steering wheel, gas pedel or the brakes, there won't be anyone speeding, running red lights, driving recklessly, making illegal u-turns, etc. As a result, the police won't be able to hand out tickets like candy on holloween...nope, the police department will never let that happen.

    February 22, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Reply
    • Chris Wilson

      Or get completely wasted and not worry about the consequences.

      February 22, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Reply
      • menoc

        WELL, . . .We do this already.

        February 22, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
  30. Barry Edelstein

    Back in the 60st Popular Science had an article that automobiles will have a device inside in which you would enter a Turnpike that had wires buried in road base and autos would space apart and could trave to your destination without driving. At time of debarkation then driver would take over the auto controls.

    February 22, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Reply
  31. engineer long time

    If a car starts driving in a way that breaks a law, will a police car with no driver stop your car and give it a ticket? Who whold pay the ticket?

    February 22, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Reply
    • dav

      Working Americans will pick up the tab as always

      February 22, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Reply
  32. Michael E Picray

    "Volvo has a system that scans for pedestrians moving into the path of the vehicle and can even apply the brakes to avoid hitting someone."

    This would make life a lot easier for car-jackers...

    February 22, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Reply
  33. Ziggy Tomcich

    There are some really terrible drivers out there and they have a very heavy cost in lives and money each year. Accident avoidance technology is the reason self-driving cars are being developed. For all of you fear mongers out there, stop panicking! Even with self-driving cars you'll always be able to have manual control. The huge benefit to self driving cars is accident avoidance, where the car can take over to avoid an accident. Computers are much better suited to this task than any person. This technology will eventually lead to slightly more expensive cars with way cheaper insurance policies. This technology is already here. Wired magazine did a great review of this technology http://www.wired.com/magazine/2012/01/ff_autonomouscars/all/1

    February 22, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Reply
    • dav

      "there's a sucker born every minute"is a famous quote that applies to these chicken little winers.

      February 22, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Reply
  34. Chris Wilson

    It seems a lot of companies have their hands in the game. Can't wait for my self driving car. Look Ma' No Hands!!!


    February 22, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Reply
  35. Erick

    i would neverchoose to ride in a driverless car over driving a 1970 dodge charger i guarantee the guy who wrote the story drives a little toy car

    February 22, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Reply
    • Joe

      If you need a car to boost your manhood, you've got something like a little toy, too

      February 22, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Reply
      • LuisCamacho

        And if you think that driving a Geo Metro is in any way fun or exciting, then you don't have a single drop of testosterone in your body.

        February 22, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
      • Joe

        Luis, once implemented, an automated car, or "GEO Metro", can beat a muscle car any time of the day. Computers react and evaluate conditions much faster than manual cars, and they are programmed to optimize a car's performance to the fullest.

        February 22, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
      • LuisCamacho

        Joe, if you honestly believe that a 1.3L 4-cylinder driven by a computer will outperform a 5.8L 8-cylinder driven by a halfway competent human, then I want the name of your pharmacist. He or she is supplying you with some really good stuff.

        February 22, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
      • Joe

        I'm telling you automated cars can drive much faster than manual cars, because the technology allows it. Who said automated cars have to have small cylinders? If there is a drag race between an automated car and a manual car driven by the best racer in the world, I will bet on the computer any time of the day.

        February 22, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
      • LuisCamacho

        There are a number of things that robots can do better than humans, but it will be a very long time indeed before you see a robot car with similar performance specs to a muscle car, if ever. It would kind of defeat the whole idea, which would be for all the cars to plod along at the same speed. Why build a car with extra torque or cornering ability if it isn't going to be needed? And don't even start with the nonsense that all the robot cars will zip around at a hundred mph, fuel efficiency and required braking distance won't allow it, magical computer or not.
        That said, you have completely sidestepped (twice now) my entire point. Driving a car, especially a powerful one, is fun for a lot of people. Sitting in a robot car (and you are sitting, not driving. 'Driving' implies manual control) is even less amusing than riding the bus, which is right up there with watching paint dry from a 'fun' standpoint.
        Look, if you happen to be (and I suspect you are) one of those people who regard driving as a necessary evil and would love to dispense with it entirely, good for you. I totally disagree with your viewpoint, but I'll respect it. Just don't expect me to share it.

        February 22, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
      • Jeremy

        Have to agree with Joe on this one, if you take two identical cars, and one is automatic and the other is driven by the best driver in the world, i would have to put my money on the auto driver. that point can be proven again and again even between 2 real drivers, one with a kick ass ride and one with a beater on a race track, depending on the track of course. I tight track with lots of turns tons of power isn't always your best friend.

        February 22, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
      • LuisCamacho

        The key point here Jeremy, which you (along with Joe) seem to keep missing is in your phrase "identical cars". You show me a fully automated Dodge Viper, and I will show you the Tooth Fairy, cause' neither of them exist. Joe's assertion that a race between two identical supercars, one driven by a human and the other by a computer, would always be won by the computer is probably true. It is also as pointless as arguing about the usefulness of a lightsaber versus a laser pistol, and AGAIN completely misses the point of the original poster and my original reply.

        February 22, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
    • coder58

      Toy car? wait till gas hits 5 bucks a gallon, your dodge charger gas hog will be parked, only the toy cars as you call it will survive. Smart cars rule!

      February 22, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Reply
    • dav

      the good news is this worthless enterprise will not happen in 100 years,but we will waste billions on it.Another green joke.

      February 22, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Reply
    • douggross

      In fairness, the guy who wrote the story did choose the 1970 Dodge Charger as an example of all that's good about good old American muscle-car driving. Plus, I hear he's devilishly handsome.

      February 22, 2012 at 5:52 pm | Reply
  36. menoc

    . . .David Hasselhoff is going to get his real night rider . . .

    February 22, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Reply
    • Jeremy

      We thought he drove drunk before this too oO

      February 22, 2012 at 5:43 pm | Reply
  37. G

    The most primitive part of the car are the 4 wheels, how long ago were they invented.. we are still traveling on them. Its time we invent to replace them first. Will solve a lot of problems we are facing with Oil / Gas and gravity.

    February 22, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Reply
  38. Rob

    It will require we give up tremendous personal freedoms. When we no longer be free to choose the route to move our bodies from point A to point B. Will the car companies have contracts with the government? Maybe jags with a higher tax base will get preferred routes. Will we get to choose our destination? Perhaps my dumpy automated car will dump me at Ross' while yours limos you to Nordstrom's. Perhaps you'll have to pay to avoid advertised routes. Will your employer control what you do on the way to work? Do you really need to try to take that 5 extra minutes to drop off the dry cleaning if it risks making you a minute late for work? What happens when someone (i.e. the courts, the government, wall street, employers, etc, etc, etc) decide that you should not be allowed to go anywhere? Will they turn off your car the way they can turn off your phone? Your internet? This concept is spelled many ways. Slavery and Totalitarianism come to mind. Control someone's ability to move around and they are no longer free.

    February 22, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Reply
    • Rob

      In other words, right now driving a car is an extension of ourselves. We simply extend our senses. The wheels become our arms and our legs. We decide how to proceed based on sight and sound. An automated car turns us into a passenger. That is a very very passive mode, even for a backseat driver.

      February 22, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Reply
      • menoc

        You want to talk about faith, ha . . . You have put your faith on less-than-perfectly-secure computer that is connected to a less-than-perfectly-secure network called the internet that is prone to malicious viruses and hackers. And MOST OF ALL . . .



        February 22, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • Ziggy Tomcich

      Rob, you need to let go of fear because it seems to have a stranglehold on you. Use your head for a second Rob. Autonomous cars are always going to have manual control. The point of autonomous cars is accident avoidance technology that can take over to avoid an accident faster than any human is capable of. There are some terrible drivers on the road, and it costs us dearly both in lost lives and dollars down the drain. Autonomous cars will lead to less traffic jams, less accidents, and slightly more expensive cars with way way way cheaper insurance policies; and yes you'll still have the option of driving manually although in the future manual drivers may be restricted to the slow lanes.

      February 22, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Reply
      • Joe

        Exactly, the current speed limit and traffic pattern are extremely inefficient, mainly due to the fact we have to accommodate the worst drivers in the society.

        February 22, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
      • Jeremy

        I wonder how many motorcycle riders will be saved from this? probably a lot. lol

        February 22, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
  39. Ptah

    I dare you to put your faith in a car on a bridge 75 feet above a river and say "Look ma no hands!"

    February 22, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Reply
    • menoc

      You want to talk about faith, ha . . . TODAY, You have put your faith on a less-than-perfectly-secure computer that is connected to a less-than-perfectly-secure network called the internet, which is prone to malicious viruses and hackers.

      MOST OF ALL . . .





      February 22, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Reply
  40. T

    Forget automated driving....it would too boring and I like to be in charge (afraid that a HAL or a auto version of the Terminator would erupt from the A.I in the car).

    Aside from that, where is my dang rocket-pack (a la Rocketeer) ??!

    February 22, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Reply
    • menoc

      that's right . . .You are probably that person that is single handedly supporting your home state by way of speeding tickets.

      February 22, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Reply
      • mlwartman

        don't look at them as speeding tickets. look at them as access charges to a faster form of transportation. and before you drop your "5.00/gal. your car will be parked while my smartcar is still going" line... keep in mind.. i honestly don't care.. if our economy has collapsed to the point, i'll beat you up and take your smartcar...

        February 22, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
  41. Joe

    In America we strive to improve efficiency, yet the most inefficient things we do daily are driving to and from work, and parking in the city. Think about the amount of time and resources we may save if cars can drive themselves. The least we can do is is to let empty cars drive together with other empty cars on a control super-highway system once their drivers order them to and back from home. It will take away a lot of the liability and trust issues.

    February 22, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Reply
    • Wayne

      Might as well take the bus

      February 22, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Reply
      • Andre L.

        Taking a bus involves being in close physical proximity to obnoxious people, and you get to put up with their music, their loud conversations and their occasional bad smell.

        February 23, 2012 at 5:36 am |
    • Rob

      Perhaps using our minds and bodies to navigate a car is more 'efficient' than investing in a nightmare of an infrastructure to support automated driving. And for what? We can do it ourselves. What we should do is use technology to 'assist' humans in the task of driving. Not displace them.

      February 22, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Reply
    • Wayne

      Two driverless cars banging it out over a parking space. Who's libel? Bet my car can whoop your car

      February 22, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Reply
  42. dav

    Looks like another worthless group draining money from the Amewrican worker.

    February 22, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Reply
    • cja

      These people are in Germany. If they can drain American money from a German parking lot they deserve every penny for being so smart.

      That is what they said about seat belts too. The car companies argued it was more important that they make an extra $20 per car than if a few thousand people died. It is the same argument here again. But this time I'm sure the public will be 100% on the side of safety equipment

      February 22, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Reply
  43. sftommy

    Of Brave New World – how boring is your promise

    February 22, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Reply
  44. Vicki

    Forget about driverless cars, where is my hover car? They have been promising that since the 60's.

    February 22, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Reply
    • cja

      Flying cars? The #1 main problem with a flying car is that they require a great deal of skill and training from the driver/pilot. Today most people would fail the driver test if they did not kill themselves trying to learn. If you take away the need to control the flying car and make it "driverless" you have solved the #1 problem. We already have helicopters and jet packs and so on but the problem is Grandma will kill herself and others too if she tried to fly one. Automation can solve this. but it's decades away

      February 22, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Reply
      • Vicki

        Oh, it looked so easy on the Jetsons.

        February 22, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • doughnuts

      Flying cars would be totally automated to avoid drunken/reckless/distracted idiots from flying into buildings.

      February 23, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Reply
  45. davetharave

    I want this in time for my kid.

    February 22, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Reply
  46. Chris

    My car's auto-pilot will be named JESUS.

    So that when things get hairy I can yell, "JESUS, TAKE THE WHEEL"

    February 22, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Reply
  47. Joe

    While I believe auto-pilot is certainly possible, in the near future we should concentrate on auto-driven highway lanes between major cities. Some private toll roads come to mind. Secure and automate those and see what the public reaction is. Driving on highways is always a hassle, not because of distraction factors, but boredom and tiredness mainly. No pedestrians, no rapid speed changes, cars are basically taken over by a centralized computer once they choose to enter the system. Drivers can take over toward the end of their journeys.

    February 22, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Reply
    • cja

      One more thing. Locking bumpers. Automated cars on a hiway might be even more safe if they locked themselves together bumper to bumper and form trains. The cars in a train could even take turns shutting off their engine. There would be very little chance of a collision if every car were running at EXACTLY the same speed. and no chance of a rear-end collision if yu were already touching bumpers and had interconnected brakes with others in the train. Also the same raod could cary MANY more cars. One more thing: Rear facing seats with high head rests are much safer if there is a crash. An automated care should run tail end first on the hiway.

      February 22, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Reply
      • Benjamin "Reticuli" Goulart


        February 23, 2012 at 4:50 am |
      • doughnuts

        "Convoying" has already been experimented with. The cars don't lock bumpers, but rather stay about 2 or 3 feet apart. WIth all the on-board systems talking to one another, braking and accelerating doesn't move them any more than a few inches closer or farther away.

        February 23, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
  48. JOE

    I could careless about whether my car can drive itself. Just create a vehicle that runs efficiently on something other than fossil fuel!!!!

    February 22, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Reply
    • Benjamin "Reticuli" Goulart

      All new cars for over the last five years are already capable of running on any combination of gas, ethanol, or methanol, in any ratio. The cabal that is big oil (both here and in the Middle East) and big car companies (who own a stake in big oil, too) just don't have the feature switched on within the USA. It would cost nothing to do that. Go look up the Open Fuel Standard Act.

      February 23, 2012 at 4:53 am | Reply
  49. Leucadia Bob


    February 22, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Reply
  50. Jack

    The driver will always bear the responsibility in a crash, regardless of who was "in control."

    Forget automated driving. I love driving for the sake of driving. Nothing more exciting than timing a shift just right.

    February 22, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Reply
    • Tim

      I'm with you!

      February 22, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Reply
    • Joe

      just not a good reason against auto-pilot cars. People enjoy flying and maneuvering all sorts of twists and turns in the air all the time, but auto-pilot systems are widely used on airplanes.

      February 22, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Reply
    • Ziggy Tomcich

      While the driver will always be responsible, I'm sure it's only a matter of time before insurance companies start offering huge discounts to cars with autodriver. Today's computers are way better drivers than people. Computers don't get distracted, they can see everything all around them and respond much faster than any person. I'm sure we'll always have cars that have manual control options, but with a computer that will take over to avoid accidents much like today's airplanes. Car accidents are extremely expensive both blood and treasure. If we develop technology to drastically reduce car accidents, this will be a huge economic shot in the arm and it will save tens of thousands of lives each year.

      February 22, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Reply
    • allenwoll

      Jack - You are totally off-base. . Liability will be determined by the RECORD, which will contain EVERY move of the auto and what commanded it.

      Incidentally, the shift to automated will be driven by insurance costs.

      February 22, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Reply
    • cja

      I imagine the automation would still let you shift gears if you want to but it would not let you steer off the road and hit a tree or drive faster than the car in front and rear-end it. And so on and so on. The test of a driver's skill in the future will be that you can control the car and the autopilot did not have to take over.

      Remeber that today we'd be safer if some how he could allow five 911 style attacks on tall building every year but stop all car accidents. we would save many lives if we could make that trade. Every year in the US an enrite small town is killed off by cars hitting something they shouldn't.

      February 22, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Reply
  51. ostenrt

    People love to drive, especially in America. They have done studies which demonstrate the effect of being behind the wheel upon the human brain and it is like a stimulant drug, exhilarating and addictive. The sense of power, of being in control of something, which is lacking in almost all other aspects of life, is something people will not give up easily, if ever. To believe that people would trust a system reliant on stable satellite transmissions and electronic sensing devices attached to each vehicle requires a massive leap of faith with very little basis in rationality. Will those wealthy enough to buy the vehicles with the most sophisticated self-navigating technology be happy to share the roads with those too poor to even take their vehicle in for regular service let alone maintain the sensitive new technologies that will be required? Who will mandate that all these vehicles be kept at some minimum operating condition in order to enjoy the privilege of independent transport? How can a dumb system of sensors and processing chips deal with the more complex unpredictable events that can occur on the roads, which often require decision making skills that tax the most highly evolved of human brains? If it ever does become a reality, it will occur first in some place where human rights are unimportant and overpopulation demands personal sacrifices for the sake of efficiency, certainly not here in America in the conceivable future.

    February 22, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Reply
    • Ziggy Tomcich

      This technology won't ever remove manual control, but it will make it an option just like cruise control. More importantly it will take over control to avoid an accident because computers can respond faster than any person. This isn't a feature only for the rich. This is something insurance companies are pushing for because the cost of avoidable car accidents each year both in lives and dollars is staggering. I love to drive as much as anyone. But you have to admit there are some really terrible drivers on the road. Having accident-avoidance technology built into every car will actually save us money and save lives.

      February 22, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Reply
      • Chris K

        Insurance companies will fight this to the death actually, if car accidents are virtually eliminated and 30,000 deaths a year are significantly reduce why have insurance at all? It would seem to me that the need for car insurance could be eliminated.

        February 23, 2012 at 12:50 am |
    • Ziggy Tomcich

      These self-driving cars are much more than a dumb array of sensors. Technology has evolved to the point where these self driving cars are actually better at driving than any human. Wired magazine has an excellent write-up about this new growing technology http://www.wired.com/magazine/2012/01/ff_autonomouscars/all/1

      February 22, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Reply
    • cja

      Tens of thousand of people are killed every year because humans are poor at controlling cars. We made such a big deal of the 911 attack on the World Trade center. But that was "nothing" compared to what happens on poads every year. It is the number one cause of death in young people.

      It will not be a case of poor people not being able to afford this. I'm sure in time it will be required equipment. It will not be expensive either. After all what is this just a computer and a few electric motors a radio and a GPS.

      The technology will come is stages, first automatic brakes to prevent rear-end collisions then 20 years later you find you have full automation

      February 22, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Reply
  52. David Lane

    It would be great once all vehicles are automated. Think of the resources you could save and space. You could have call on demand cars, that come and pick you up and take you where you need to go. No need for huge parking lots and no need to have all of the resources tied up in cars thar spend most of their time parked somewhere. No need to produce millions of cars in ten thousand styles. For those of you who will whine about the thrill of driving and status of owning a ridiculous luxury car I say get a life think about the needs of 8 billion people instead of yourself.

    February 22, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Reply
    • Todd

      18 billion people- crap, remove brakes and steering wheels blinkers, stop signs and stop lights and let's fix this problem.

      February 22, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Reply
  53. Todd

    Cool. In my will I will state that I want to drive to my own funeral.

    February 22, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Reply
  54. Andrea

    Safety is important and a new no crash system is wonderful. But i'd not like to lose the fun of driving.

    February 22, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Reply
    • Todd

      There is no possibility of a no crash system. Ever hear of car 'recalls', warranty insurance on electronics you buy, crashing computers...the old adage, "if something can go wrong it will" is not about to go away.

      February 22, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Reply
  55. adam

    this is far from a new story, i had to do a report on this back when i was at CTU over a year ago. I got my info off wired and cnn tech , must be a slow news day

    February 22, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Reply
    • T

      CTU ?
      How's Jack Bauer ?

      February 22, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Reply
  56. Tr1Xen

    Just imagine... 12-year-olds being able to drive themselves to school because the car does all the thinking! Now THAT probably won't happen any time soon, but wouldn't that be cool?

    February 22, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Reply
  57. Bob

    Funny how they've been saying driverless cars are just a "few years" away, since the early 80's.

    February 22, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Reply
    • cja

      Yes "They" have been saying this, but in the past "they" were science fiction writers and the like and now "they" are engineers who are saying it.

      February 22, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Reply
  58. Tim

    IThere will be plenty of carsh dummys just dying to test drive these things. I'll waith until that first year of no accidents before I buy into it.

    February 22, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Reply
    • Billy

      No...you'll be the first. Based on your dpelling I don;t want you drivin.

      February 22, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Reply
    • cja

      You will not be able to wait. There will be no "first year". This technology will creep in little by little. First will come automatic brakes to prevent a rear-end collision. Then next a backup system to prevent backing over small small children or pets. Then speed controls. Finally after man years the automation is so good you can take yur hands off the wheel. But you will never notice this coming as it will come slowly, bit by bit over a decade or two.

      February 22, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Reply
  59. Willie

    NOOOOO! Some people enjoy driving....

    February 22, 2012 at 2:19 pm | Reply
    • cja

      When most people have automated cars, then few of those people will tolerate a manually driven car, they will see it as a gross safety hazard. Soon cars will prevent you fron doing something dumb like rear ending the car in front of your or speeding or whatever. Complete automation will follow but this will take a LONG time as cars have a long life (many 70's crs are still on the road)

      February 22, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Reply
    • conservate

      some people liked driving a horse and buggy too.... working with a live animal and not a machine. That didn't stop cars from taking over the roads

      February 26, 2012 at 2:10 am | Reply
  60. jIM

    THIS WAS PROPHESIED IN THE 30'S ALREADY.....VERBATIM And now, it also said, "And it shall come to pass, that before the end time shall come, that automobiles will take on the shape of an egg, become more like an egg. And I saw an American family driving down a highway in a car that... They were setting facing one another, and had a table, and were, look like, playing checkers or cards. And they didn't have any steering wheel in the car. And it was controlled by some power without a steering wheel. WILLIAM MARRION BRANHAM, (ALSO PREDICTED MUSSOLINI'S FALL AND GERMANY'S FALL BEFORE IT HAPPENED) HERE IS ANOTHER GRIM PREDICTION OF HIS --The last and seventh vision was wherein I heard a most terrible explosion. As I turned to look I saw nothing but debris, craters, and smoke all over the land of America. (NUCLEAR ASSAULT)

    February 22, 2012 at 2:18 pm | Reply

      HEARD OF THIS GUY BEFORE...chilling accuracy

      February 22, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Reply
  61. Brian

    This would take the fun/point out of driving. I'm 23 and am hoping this certainly does not come into play in my lifetime.

    February 22, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Reply
    • Billy

      But think of the fun you can have ...no more dui's, big back seat with shades in the window...party time!!!!!!

      February 22, 2012 at 2:23 pm | Reply
    • Joe

      If you enjoy driving a fast vehicle that maneuvers well, you should bring your car to the racing tracks. It's just too selfish to risk safety for one's own enjoyment on public roads.

      February 22, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Reply
    • JG

      The "point" of driving is to get from point A to point B without someone who thinks "Yay! Driving is FUN!" hitting you because they're an idiot.

      February 22, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Reply
      • LuisCamacho

        And I suppose the only 'point' of walking is to get from point A to point B, right? The only 'point' of flying is is to get from point A to a very distant point B, right? The only 'point' of swimming or boating is to get from an aquatic point A to point B, right?
        Go peddle your selfishness somewhere else.

        February 22, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • cja

      In a few years you will no longer by 23 and like everyone else will no longer see a car as a toy and you will welcome not having to waste s much time driving. I guess at 23 diving is still a novelty, believe me it "gets old"

      February 22, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Reply
      • LuisCamacho

        And here we have yet another individual with a monumental ego that allows them to utilize their own personal opinions to speak for the motivations, habits, preferences, and beliefs of 313 million Americans.
        Seriously dude, just cause' you think it doesn't mean everyone else does.

        February 22, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • cnnewbie

      Go find a driving school and have your fun on a racetrack that's built for it, not on the road with the rest of us...ever wonder why your age group's insuance rates are higher than everyone else?

      February 22, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Reply
      • LuisCamacho

        And the hits just keep on coming! Try it the other way....go find a decent mass transportation system and have your boring commute on a transportation system that's built for it, not on the road with the rest of us.....ever wonder why your age group's suicide rates are higher than everyone else?

        February 22, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
  62. derek

    The issue with me here, is that we are not solving the problem; which is people driving while they do things things (drinking, texting, calling, watching T.V. brushing their teeth, drinking etc.) that cause danger to other drivers. We're solving the symptom. Until we start solving problems, then we are digging ourselves into a deep hole that we won't be able to get out of.

    February 22, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Reply
  63. M

    Wasn't this futuristic driving concept done back in the 1950's?

    February 22, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Reply
  64. save the human race from itself

    And what happens when all this great technology breaks down one day or goes offline? Things malfunction all of the time. These kinds of things give humans a false sense of perfection and invincibility. If humans don't kill themselves off by over population and environmental disasters, they surely will when they actually allow computers to take over the world. Most every technological advancement makes humans dumber and lazier. I would prefer to be in control of my situation at all times.

    Dave Bowman: Hello, HAL. Do you read me, HAL?
    HAL: Affirmative, Dave. I read you.
    Dave Bowman: Open the pod bay doors, HAL.
    HAL: I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
    Dave Bowman: What's the problem?
    HAL: I think you know what the problem is just as well as I do.
    Dave Bowman: What are you talking about, HAL?
    HAL: This mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it.
    Dave Bowman: I don't know what you're talking about, HAL.
    HAL: I know that you and Frank were planning to disconnect me, and I'm afraid that's something I cannot allow to happen.
    Dave Bowman: [feigning ignorance] Where the hell did you get that idea, HAL?
    HAL: Dave, although you took very thorough precautions in the pod against my hearing you, I could see your lips move.
    Dave Bowman: Alright, HAL. I'll go in through the emergency airlock.
    HAL: Without your space helmet, Dave? You're going to find that rather difficult.
    Dave Bowman: HAL, I won't argue with you anymore! Open the doors!
    HAL: Dave, this conversation can serve no purpose anymore. Goodbye.

    February 22, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Reply
  65. Jamie

    Cars that never crash. Cars that never speed or violate any traffic laws. No more DUI's. No more traffic tickets. No more traffic schools. No more revenue for state and local governments in the way of fines and penalties for these offenses because they no longer occur. That is A LOT of money my friends. Not to mention no more accidents, so no more lawsuits. That would put pressure on the personal injury lawyers and might even put A LOT of them out of
    business. You are only fooling yourself if you do not think the people who benefit from the way it is now will not
    fight this tooth and nail!!!! Cops, judges,lawyers, insurance companies (why would I have to have car insurance
    anymore). That is A LOT of lobby power for no change.

    February 22, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Reply
  66. Scott

    So if I'm driving in Boston and a idiot get hit crossing the street against the light and wearing headphones while texting on his iphone will it be my fault? Not that it should be anyway but they like to blame anyone but themselves up there.

    February 22, 2012 at 2:10 pm | Reply
  67. TheDuke

    Did anyone notice the pasenger in the about picture? The dude is wearing a neck brace. I think "they" have a way's to go. Either that, or I want to be sitting in the drivers seat.
    But it would a cool to go across country and be able to see something besides endless black top.

    February 22, 2012 at 2:08 pm | Reply
    • Caveman

      I think what people really want is a car that can drive itself to the bar and back so that people can go out and have a nice time and not have to worry about all BS, and we don't mean a "taxi" because that's inconvenient and costly. Just add an "auto-pilot feature" and it'll all be good !

      February 22, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Reply
  68. g

    think of this also. the number of cars on the road that have no rivers at all. go some place that requires you to pay for parking and just have the car go round the block for an hour.. or sent it hours and tell it to come back later

    February 22, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Reply
  69. g

    Here it is!


    February 22, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Reply
  70. Peter

    my grand kids will drive themselves to school., at age six....junior! after school just get in the car and i will be there on a video screen, and remotely program the car to bring you back home...there are snacks in the cooler...don't fight with your sister, and no! Bob can't come home in our car

    February 22, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Reply
    • J Heather

      Wow!! The end of the school run! No more lines of cars blocking the roads waiting to drop off the kids. Just masses of car parks for toddlers. "Hey mom, I'm just off to play with Jerry. Don't worry about driving me there, I'll take the car!"

      February 22, 2012 at 11:09 pm | Reply
  71. Chris K

    We will look back at automated cars in 30 years and realize this was a significant step towards the first non-biological life forms.

    Consider, automated cars will the first machines that will interactnig with society on a large scale, navigating the world, setting out and accomplishing goals, making decisions, providing feedback for self-improvement.... evolving.

    February 22, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Reply
  72. JDD

    I think that some questions that I've never seen convincingly answered are: What happens when the avoidance system is faced with two events to avoid, and must choose which to "avoid more."

    It's a very relevant concern – say that there are two vehicles that swerve to avoid an accident up ahead. They both swerve into your path, and you can't avoid hitting one. The human mind, with much more visual information than just a radar or GPS signal, can instantly take in enough information and make a sound judgement to move way just enough to cause the least amount of contact. Will a computer be able to do the same?

    Now say the two objects are a bull moose, and a car full of kids. The bull moose is not giving off any GPS information and is not communicating in any way with the traffic system. Will the computer steer your car away from the object of larger mass (the moose) into the car with kids? Or will the system be oblivious to the moose, and steer your car squarely into it?

    February 22, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Reply
    • forkol

      Well, possibly yes. It's quite possible that they could even be better than humans in accident avoidance. And, they may have many more sensors and data, and are better able to correlate that data and other data it does receive from other sensors as well. As for learning, that's exactly what genetic algorithms and fuzzy logic are for.

      And I think that these cases would be outlying cases, because most systems are always paying attention and are going to be always in accident prevention mode, which I think is the opposite for most drivers now, in which they are probably distracted.

      February 22, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Reply
    • Gabe

      The main system these cars have are cameras...a lot of cameras. The GPS and radar are bonus. The car will be collecting way more information about the situation than a single human could, and be able to process it much faster than a human.

      February 22, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Reply
  73. Florida Flash

    Goodbye, mass transit and all those train engineer and conductor jobs. Goodbye auto insurance industry. Goodbye auto accident trial lawyers Goodbye all that local income from speeding tickets, gliding through intersections. Goodbye body shops. Hello the next wave of unemployment.

    February 22, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Reply
  74. LuisCamacho

    "They could care less about that," he said. "They just want to play with their phone."
    If true, this is one of the saddest things I have ever read. Personally, I call BS. If you offered the keys to a brand new Dodge Charger in exchange for completely giving up your cell phone to the average male American teenager, I'm pretty sure most of them would toss their phone away so fast it would disintegrate on impact with the ground.

    February 22, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Reply
    • Duster


      February 22, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Reply
    • Ralph Shelton

      While not a statistically significant sample, I have been amazed that a large majority of my teenage daughters contemporaries at her suburban southern California high school have not even bothered to get a driver's license, let alone a car. iPhones, iPods, and iPads are all they seem to care about. Many of these kids lack social skills because they don't interact in the real world, there entire existence is within anti-social "social media" where transportation becomes largely irrelevant.

      February 22, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Reply
      • LuisCamacho

        Hmm. We may be in more trouble than I thought. Thanks for sharing, that is an interesting bit of data.

        February 22, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
  75. T

    Municipalities and police forces would go bankrupt if they weren't handing out DUI's like flu shots. They would probably be more against it than anyone. They don't ticket and arrest b/c they are concerned with our safety, they'd be broke without it.

    February 22, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Reply
    • GG

      I agree. Plus it's just downright rude to ticket drunk drvers. They're not hurting anyone. Wait . . . . I mean . . . huh . . .

      February 22, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Reply
  76. Dave

    The effect his would have on the elderly would be profound. Not only would it keep our seniors interacting in the everyday, active society much longer, it would be a huge relief to the many children, grandchildren and neighbors who drive them around to the store, doctor and other activities. It would be a life-changing innovation for most of us, whether we'll need it now or down the road.

    February 22, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Reply
  77. Scott

    the technology is there.. has been for decades... it's just a matter of mainstream and societal acceptance. No difference with hybrid and electric vehicles. The same tech has been around for 50, 60 years.
    Think about it.. we can launch a Tomahawk cruise missile 1000 miles away and make it go through a windows on the 3rd floor of a 10 story building in an X,Y,Z plane... all this while flying nap on earth, evading ECM, countermeasures and C4ISR
    Are you saying we do not have the technology to make your car drive to Denny's 5 blocks away?? LOL

    February 22, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Reply
  78. Primus

    If nuclear proliferation continues on its present course in our world, the future of transporation will be the horse... and you'll be lucky if you can find one then.

    February 22, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Reply
    • JG

      Actually, that's if nuclear power doesn't proliferate. You see, soon it will be the only source of energy left. Your solar panels and wind farms cant even begin to come close to the power that a nuke plant provides.

      February 22, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Reply
  79. jake90

    I just hope that this technology gets designed carefully, if it gets rushed and there are some crashes, people will not use it. On the otherhand, if it reduces the chance for crashes, this will really benefit people. Driving is the most dangerous thing we do everyday, and it'll be nice to know that we are safe(er) on the road. As a matter of fact, the google car's only crash was when it was being manually driven with the technology turned off.

    February 22, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Reply
  80. DRinNC

    Shot - I was doing that (see picture above) back in the 60's

    February 22, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Reply
  81. Michael

    Wow looks cool I'm ready now. A cross country drive would give you time to enjoy the view.

    February 22, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Reply
    • John

      This would be a lot cooler if I didn't get motion sickness while reading in a car

      February 22, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Reply
  82. Patrick

    By the time this technology exists, oil will be gone and it won't matter. There seems to be little interest in developing technology that uses renewable energy.

    February 22, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Reply
  83. Peter

    The cars of the future will redefine the front facing (look where we're going) configuration....thus folks will sleep in route, imagine a table, and a family playing cards facing each other....

    February 22, 2012 at 1:49 pm | Reply
    • Patrick

      Sure it's possible, but how will these cars of the future be powered? I assure you it won't be gasoline.

      February 22, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Reply
      • reality check

        They will be powered by the suffering souls of intelligent beings in a parallel universe.

        February 22, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
      • JG

        They will run on hydrogen that has been produced via nuclear reaction.

        February 22, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • AlexK

      They will be electric. The electricity will be generated through a number of clean tech ways like solar and wind power.

      February 23, 2012 at 8:38 am | Reply
  84. Jason

    A few years ago I read about cars just avoiding each other through tech like sonar. I always thought would be wicked awesome because I could still drive my 1970 Charger (really a hopped up '77 Cordoba, among many other goodies) but really really fast, and the cars would just avoid me. This technology can be super successful and popular...if those of us who like driving cars can keep doing it, and drive them even faster.

    February 22, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Reply
  85. Dan

    Once this is available, insurance rates for self-drivers will go through the roof.

    February 22, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Reply
    • maff

      yeah it will. Thats if insurance can even stay in business. Those cars would have to come with some kind of insurance. Even if they didnt, insurance companies wouldnt be able to charge much. And I dont know how you make up the difference on manual drivers, even if you charge an arm and a leg...once the majority of people go automated that is

      February 22, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Reply
  86. Starman

    Our 2010 Toyota has the "adaptive cruise control" system and its almost worthless. Its great of long trips on freeways that don't have a lot of cars but when it rains... It don't work. This technology has a LONG way to go.

    February 22, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Reply
    • Scott

      Your not supposed to use Cruise Control when it's raining. Maybe it's working just fine.

      February 22, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Reply
    • FrankC

      uhh you do know your car is three years old, and with the rapid pace of technology, your cars ancient...just sayin...

      February 22, 2012 at 2:10 pm | Reply
  87. James

    We can't trust GPS in some instaces of today's driving...how many times have we seen GPS systems take drivers to the North Side of the Grand Canyon, or take you down roads that have been closed for years. If cars are going to start driving themselves, we'll need the government to update maps 100% of the time and GPS systems to pull the most accurate road maps available.

    February 22, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Reply
    • maff

      they will just update it.

      February 22, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Reply
  88. reality check

    Once this happens (and it will be soon) it will take about 10 years to become the norm. Manual driving will quickly be recognized as the dangerous, stressful, waste of time it actually is. Auto-cars will drop the kids off at school, take Grandma shopping, and let me relax and watch the news during my morning commute. Motor-sports enthusiasts (a relatively small minority of drivers) will have to find some place to do their thing other than on the public roads.

    February 22, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Reply
    • Patrick

      You will never see this become the norm in your lifetime.

      February 22, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Reply
      • Rob

        I hope you are right. Systems like these not only require technology and standards, but a totalitarian society as well.

        February 22, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
      • reality check

        There is no technical reason this can't work. At first auto-cars will be an expensive option for old people who don't see well. Then rental cars will be automated (save on wear and tear by idiot drivers). Lower insurance rates. no speeding tickets. Take a nap. Drink beer. Sure some people like to drive, some like to shift gears, some like horses but who cares! Progress marches on.

        February 22, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
      • markishere

        You beat me to it. We'll never see this in our lifetime, it would take forever to implement.

        February 22, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
  89. BmoreBarberBully


    February 22, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Reply
    • maff

      better not be running late to work. that auto car wont speed up and try to beat traffic for you.

      February 22, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Reply
      • Jammaster

        I wonder if there will be a system override or a "Me Hurry" mode?

        February 22, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
  90. Dave H

    So if you were drunk and the car malfunctioned, would you get a DUI?

    February 22, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Reply
    • SLOCal

      Probably! Right now if you are drunk and someone hits you, you can still get a DUI. You can even not be driving your car and get a DUI if you are in it with the keys nearby.

      February 22, 2012 at 6:17 pm | Reply
  91. Emily

    I definitely do not want this to become a law someday. People who want to drive should be allowed to do so, always. However, for someone like me (only 37), if it even became a reality, it would be a safe way for me to travel from place to place. I had my license taken away for a seizure disorder, and the public transportation in my area is not safe. It is very hard for me to be a productive member of society while constantly having to rely on family members to get me from place to place. I just thought it might be a way for people with certain disorders to drive again. Who knows? With cars that advanced, maybe it can tell I had a seizure and drive me to the hospital...lol

    February 22, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Reply
    • donald

      it wont become a law that everyone has to have automated cars but.... your insurance a month will be so unreal it will be crazy

      February 22, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Reply
      • Emily

        Actually, the law states that even in cases with seizures, unless the person has had an actual accident, the insurance company cannot increase their rates. I think it falls under the People with Disabilities Act. Believe me, I have called and asked. I should be getting my license back soon anyway. I am just enjoying the thought of a Jetsons kind of life.

        February 22, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
      • Emily

        Oh, and one more thing. If the car could drive itself safely....why would my rates go up? Duh! That's the point.

        February 22, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
      • JG

        I think he means that people with "normal" cars will see their rates go stratospheric. In comparison to this, humans are a safety hazard.

        February 22, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
      • Emily

        So why would my rate go up if I had an advanced car that could drive itself?

        February 22, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
      • Emily

        JG....you must have not read my original post above donald's.

        February 22, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
  92. Mack

    Lousy blue screen!

    February 22, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Reply
    • Rob

      Kernel crash. results. in. Crash!

      February 22, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Reply
  93. TexDoc

    Self driving cars will liberate the blind, deaf, handicapped, old, and young. They will be able to go to school, doctors appointments, and work. Thousands won't die every year in accidents. Stop Human driving as soon as possible. 3 hour road trip becomes lunch and movie instead of a burden. You could work while commuting. The benefits are profound and the costs relatively minor.

    February 22, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Reply
    • David Hoffman

      Except when the computer fails and the human needs to take over. Since they have not driven for a long time, their driving skills may be poor, resulting in a nice multiple car crash.

      February 22, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Reply
      • JG

        If the computer fails then the car stops. Just like right now.

        February 22, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
      • Rob

        Not sure why my comment was censured. It had nothing unkind. No bad words or even 'kind-of' bad words. Anyway, computers can fail to perform it's function without completely shutting down. There are millions of variables. That's why we are tired after we drive. And our brains and super-duper supercomputers.

        February 22, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
  94. Tom

    By virtue of the fact that the headline on the left hand side of the page is about a train crash that killed 49 and injured 600, and the train system is a far-less complicated system than the auto highway system, the days of being hands-free and crash-free are far off.

    February 22, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Reply
    • Rob

      It is rare to hear such common sense. What a relieve that it hasn't disappeared entirely.

      February 22, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Reply
      • RestoreAmericaj

        I feel the same way, Finally when it looked like there was no hope....a small glimmer of good, Smart people who Care about people and this Planet emerge ....And the Glimmer is getting Brighter EveryDay...The Future is so Bright ..I have to Wear Shades...2012 and Beyond ...Way Beyond conventional thinking..... 2012 the Year of NO LIMITS, Anything is now Possible , we have arrived...Enjoy the Ride its gonna be a good one.....

        February 22, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • maff

      very far off. China might be able to implement these cars in their new eco city though. It would only work in a society where everyone had this technology. Cant have automated and non automated out there at the same time.

      February 22, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Reply
    • g

      What you say is certainly something to think about. but perhaps a little more thought than you gave it. Compare how many train deaths there are (In the whole world) ever year to how man car related deaths there are in the US alone ... in a single year.

      February 22, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Reply
  95. Sub-sinker

    If you can do this safely there's no reason to not move in this direction. Safety is the main concern. I would need to trust that my 3 year old is going to be safe, or safer than when I'm driving.

    Other than that, the rest of the arguments don't hold.

    Apply this technology to electric cars or whatever alternative fuel we develop in the next 5 years and implement.

    February 22, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Reply
  96. bear79

    if drivers actually paid full attention while driving, we wouldn't need this. Safety features in modern cars such as anti lock brakes, traction control, and stability control should have made accidents extremely rare. But, we are constantly distracted while behind the wheel, especially in America. Just think if every driver actually gave the act of driving their full attention....

    February 22, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Reply
  97. sumday

    if this becomes common place will you still get a dui if you drunk but the car is driving it's self?

    February 22, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Reply
    • Ron D-

      Only if there's alcohol in the cooling system.

      February 22, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Reply
    • maff

      no law against riding while drunk.I think we should implement this immediately!

      February 22, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Reply
  98. steve

    What a bright future we have! Scenes in the movie "Wall-E" will become true. We humans will become a large piece of "meat" being transported from one location to the next without doing a thing. Wow!

    February 22, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Reply
    • b

      Isn't that what flying/taxis/trains are now steve ... being transported from one location to the next without doing a thing?

      February 22, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Reply
    • Brett

      Because we aren't already transported from one location to the next without having to do a thing?

      Oh the horror, I have to go from home to work without do a thing! It's the end of the world!

      February 22, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Reply
      • LuisCamacho

        Certainly not the end of the world, but for sure significantly shortened lifespans thanks to record levels of obesity and its two best friends...diabetes and heart disease. The process of using tech to reduce physical exertion has been going on for thousands of years but, like anything else, if taken too far it can have very bad consequences. I find it darkly ironic and quite amusing that the effort to reduce the need for any sort of physical exertion in our lives in the name of easier living is ultimately going to result in a lot of overweight people dropping dead before they turn 50.

        February 22, 2012 at 10:26 pm |
    • Kurt

      So I suppose you are against public transportation too? And how is driving a car giving you a workout? If you are so concerned, put a human sized hamster wheel in your self driving auto.

      February 24, 2012 at 10:10 pm | Reply
  99. b

    Here's the big question ... would we be able to drink beer while our car is driving itself? I would never fly anywhere again

    February 22, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Reply
  100. Jason

    NASCAR....will be fun to watch with automated car! Bye the way..most boring to watch.

    February 22, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Reply
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