You Can Hardly Call It A Car

February 22, 2007

This year’s DARPA Urban Challenege (taking place in November) will showcase a handful of artificially intelligent cars that will–get this–drive themselves in a city environment. According to this article, though, we won’t be able to get our hands on one of these “future cars” until 2030.

It always astounds me that the technology developed today takes about 20 years to be adopted by mainstream consumers. In any case, this one is worth waiting for.

Just imagine a world in which you no longer drive around in a car, you are driven around in a mobile lounge, customized to your liking. You can just say “home” or enter your house’s address in the vehicle’s GPS system and off it goes in all its autonomous glory.

Stanford's Autonomous Vehicle: Junior

You don’t have to worry about anything, the thing drives itself, literally. It stays a safe distance away from the cars around you, follows the speed limit, stops at red lights and smoothly accelerates when they turn green. Stop signs? Not a problem, even when it’s a 4-way and there are cars all around you. The vehicle knows who has the right of way. It can also detect when the kid playing in his front yard loses his ball and runs out into the middle of street. It stops before it’s too late. Another life saved because of cutting-edge technology.

It’s the car of the future, but you can hardly call it a car.

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