Heads Up: Driverless Cars Could Be Around Corner

Monday, 26 Mar 2012 11:26 AM

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Driverless cars could be on the road soon. A computerized Volkswagen Passat is close to earning legal registration in Nevada, the first state to allow “autonomous” cars.

The Continental Automotive Group is completing10,000 miles of test driving the vehicle, in which brake and steering controls have been replaced with sensors and software to enable it to read and react to the surroundings, according to a report in USA Today. Continental is a German company with American headquarters in Auburn Hills, Mich.

Once approved, the special Passat can be registered in Nevada and will be given a special red license plate permitting its use on designated public roads, according to the report. The state’s new laws set out testing standards for driverless vehicles and requirements for residents to be able to use them.

Similar legislation has been introduced in California, Florida, Hawaii, and Oklahoma. A move to pass the same kind of bill in Arizona failed.

Proponents of driverless cars say that the vehicles can help reduce accidents, cut fuel consumption, ease traffic congestion, and alleviate parking problems. General production of driverless cars is a couple of years away, USA Today reported. But much of the technology is already being used as safety features in existing vehicles.

Google led the way in driverless cars, adapting a Toyota Prius so that it could drive itself, but the result was expensive. Continental’s project, in which somebody in the driver’s seat can override the driverless system, has been looking at how to make a more affordable drone.

“When you put everything together, a car can drive automatically,” said Ibro Muharemovic, Continental’s lead engineer for advanced engineering. But he has mixed feelings about his success. “I’m not sure if I’m excited or should feel sad — because I’m a car guy.”



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