Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Cars that Drive Themselves

Elise knows I am fascinated with the idea of self-driving cars. I can picture my father-in-law cringing at the thought.

I have nothing against driving, per se. I'd rather drive than ride. Maybe when the self-driving car finally comes to fruition perhaps I will wish it hadn't. And I am fascinated not only by the idea of reading a book or taking a nap while I "drive", or rather am driven, somewhere, but also by the societal implications of self-driving cars on the American roadscape. An entire freeway culture grew from cars as a new technology, and I am interested to see what new innovations a self-driving car culture will propogate or what staples of it will cause to become obsolete.

I recently read an article on NPR.com that said the U.S. is one step closer to a future in which cars drive themselves. On Monday, the Department of Transportation announced they are close to mandating V2V technology--communication between vehicles that has the potential to mitigate 70 - 80% of crashes involving non-impaired drivers (no new technology yet for dealing with impaired drivers...I think that's where the self-driving car would come in).

I have no idea how it works, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration just finished a test of the technology using 3,000 cars in Ann Arbor, Michigan. A graphic depicting the way the technology would work is below:

Evidently, V2V uses the same technique Aquaman used to talk to fish and dolphins on the Super Friends cartoon:

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