How Driverless Cars Will Work

Driverless Cars to Come

Urban Light Transport is a revolutionary driverless taxicab. It's yet to be seen whether the masses will place trust in driverless cars.
Urban Light Transport is a revolutionary driverless taxicab. It's yet to be seen whether the masses will place trust in driverless cars.
ATS Ltd/BWP Media/Getty Images

Google is not the only game in town when it comes to semi-autonomous cars. There are several in the pipeline for the next decade or so:

  • The 2014 BMW X5 with the Traffic Jam system can already mostly drive itself up to 25 miles per hour (40.2 kilometers per hour), though the driver still needs to keep a guiding hand on the wheel.
  • Tesla says it will have a car that operates on autopilot 90 percent of the time, which is similar to Google's Chauffeur, by 2016 -- if these two systems are legal by then, that is.
  • Mercedes-Benz brought its self-driving S500 Intelligent Drive car to the Frankfurt Auto Show in 2013, promising to have a version on the market in 2020.
  • An Audi A6 Avant at the 2013 International Consumer Electronics Show used the Mobileye system to drive itself at speeds up to 37 miles per hour (59.6 kilometers per hour). It should reach showrooms by 2020.
  • Nissan has outfitted an all-electric LEAF with an array of lasers and sensors so it can drive itself. The head of Nissan, Carlos Ghosn, predicts it will be the first semiautonomous car to market -- in 2020.

Author's Note: How Driverless Cars Will Work

This is the kind of article that feels like the information and technology are moving faster than my fingers can type. Even though I'm on top of automotive technology -- or I fancy myself to be, anyway -- I was surprised to learn that a BMW available about five minutes from now already drives itself at low speeds. Granted, it can't fly solo, but it's close. The fact that the competition is so seemingly fierce already made me wonder why we care about self-driving cars. I came to the conclusion that it's not because we're too lazy to drive the things ourselves; it's because we're too busy. There are a million things we'd rather be doing than driving a car, like watching a movie. Or taking pictures of the landscape as we pass. Or sleeping. Or calling our moms. Driving isn't the key to freedom that it used to be. Bandwidth is.

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