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Driverless cars hit New York streets

By: Drivers.com staff

Date: Monday, 19. January 2009

Back in November the city of New York closed a five-block section of 11th Avenue in Manhattan to allow the demonstration of the "autonomous vehicle."

A $420,000 version of a Ford SUV equipped with laser 'vision', a highly sophisticated GPS device (cost about $40,000), and two very powerful computer systems, showed that it could maneuver around obstacles, do lane changes, make U-turns, and park itself.

The vehicle was part of a DARPA project and was being demonstrated as part of the 15th Congress on Intelligent Transportation Systems being held at the Jacob Javits Convention Center. DARPA is the acronym for Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (noted as an early developer of the Internet), and the Ford SUV was one of two vehicles DARPA had on show.

The vehicles won’t be in common use anytime soon but the spinoffs from the research and development will be used in all kinds of developments to aid traffic. Already, many vehicles have some of the technologies the driverless vehicle will rely on, for example, the exchange of information between vehicles and the traffic environment (such as warnings about obstacles ahead or traffic lights) and exchange of information between vehicles and drivers.

Semi-automated vehicles that travel in driverless convoys are more realistic and have been tested numerous times.

Drivers won't be obsolete anytime soon but the enormous benefits deriving from these technologies will drive further research. The benefits will include reduced traffic congestion, fuel savings, crash reduction, and also time freed from the more boring aspects of driving.

Surveys are indicating that young drivers especially are more likely to want to spend driving time texting their friends or surfing the web rather than steering and watching traffic lights.

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All Comments (6)

Showing 1 - 6 comments

solaris DaWay,

Oh if there is a "GOD" then this will happen in our lifetime!!! If this were to be a reality then America would see for the first time true "Freedom". Just think to transport yourself without being hunted by the common taxcop, to be able to have a drink where and when like the adults we are, to be able to spend a little time with the partner making life better instead of dealing with text traffic'ers and cell phone suicides!!
Hell let them watch tv on the way to work!!! I would think that industries like the cell phone and the media would be all for this!! come on people lets get with the times and stop paying rent, insurance, gas, tickets, and the more than 3000 deaths daily on our roadways!! I dare us!!

apred2007,

I think in a large congested city these cars are the way to go for controlling traffic flows and calm speeds down.

paulo guerreiro,

I love to drive and as that I wouldn't change a "whole human commanded vehicle" for something that would take the fun out of it.

As they say, this kind of car wont be seen just yet but I can very well imagine the technology involved under research for many other means.

alan phillips,

Come on tom!! try to think forward! Its not about suddenly starting to produce these cars or impress everyone with how far they've come its about developing and testing technology for the future demand. Driving is generally a labor and one by one labors have and are being replaced or eased by the introduction of technology

nawaz hussain,

have a job for a driver.

Tom Chicagoland,

Good article. But don't think this techonogly is feasible just yet. It might be fun for the techy's , but i think Ford is wasting its money and engineering talent in a vain attempt at prestige?