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Driverless Cars Ready to Hit the Road
Lean back, let go of the steering wheel, ease your feet off the pedals and relax: your car is now in charge. The dream of a car that can drive itself has grown over the last decade as the necessary technologies have gradually proved their worth, but the idea has faced major legal hurdles.
Not for much longer. Politicians are now scrambling to make self-driving cars a reality. From Hawaii to Florida, and Oxford to Berlin, the race is on to get driverless cars onto our streets.
Promising improved safety, better fuel-efficiency and freedom from the boredom of long drives, autonomy has been coming piecemeal to our cars for some time - and it has always had its critics. In 1994, on a UK motorway, Jaguar and Lucas Industries demonstrated the safety of adaptive cruise control and automatic lane keeping; both technologies are now commonplace on our roads. The media were not impressed, describing the idea of cars that drive themselves as "madness".
But concerns about the safety of autonomous cars are misplaced in a world where 1.2 million people die every year in road accidents due to human error, says Paul Newman, a robotics engineer at the University of Oxford, whose team is developing autonomous cars.
"It's crazy to imagine that we are going to keep driving cars like we do now - that in 10 to 20 years we'll still have to sit behind a wheel, concentrating hard, not falling asleep and not running over people," he says.
This notion now has powerful backers - and barriers are beginning to fall.
read the full article > New Scientist