Monday, 25 February 2019

Research: Self Driving Cars

Jurvetson Google driverless car
Research has been conducted in cars that drive themselves since the 1920s. The Google driverless car project has a fleet of cars that have already driven over 2 million miles. Already certain states in America have passed legislation allowing driverless cars on public roads.

When driverless cars become the norm it could mean the end of traffic jams and accidents. Traffic would move at a constant speed and proximity sensors would ensure they didn't crash. But it would only take one human driver or careless pedestrian to cause chaos.

A Wikipedia article reports:
In March 2018, a Arizona pedestrian was hit and killed by an Uber self-driving car in what was believed to be the first reported fatal crash involving a self-driving vehicle and a pedestrian in the US. Later in the same month, San Francisco police issued a ticket to the passenger of a self-driving car that had failed to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk.
A Brief History of the Future suggests that the solution is to take traffic off the road altogether, into the skies. He envisions what he calls 'suspended pods' carrying people above the traffic, which sound like cable cars. I'm not sure how the cables would work, especially for changing from one cable to another, but maybe they would work without cables.
Waymo self-driving car
Another Wikipedia article lists the advantages of driverless cars:
Potential benefits include reduced costs, increased safety, increased mobility, increased customer satisfaction and reduced crime. Safety benefits include a reduction in traffic collisions, resulting in injuries and related costs, including for insurance. Automated cars are predicted to increase traffic flow; provide enhanced mobility for children, the elderly, disabled, and the poor; relieve travelers from driving and navigation chores; increase fuel efficiency of vehicle; significantly reduce needs for parking space; reduce crime; and facilitate business models for transportation as a service, especially via the sharing economy.

Ann Marie Thomas is the author of four medieval history books, a surprisingly cheerful poetry collection about her 2010 stroke, and the science fiction series Flight of the Kestrel. Book one, Intruders, and book two Alien Secrets, are out now. Follow her at

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