Autonomous Cars Almost Ready, Drivers Not So Much

Autonomous cars, once seen only in works of science fiction, are almost a reality. The robotic version of today’s motor vehicle is promising to deliver fewer crashes, increased roadway capacity, improved parking ability and more. Car makers say the driver-less vehicles would even eliminate constraints due to the occupant’s state assessing age, disabilities or even blood alcohol level.

As Gigaom reports, the future is fast approaching.
“There is no technology barrier from going where we are now to the autonomous car,” said Jim McBride, a Ford Research and Innovation technical expert who specializes in autonomous vehicle technologies. “There are affordability issues, but the big barrier to overcome is customer acceptance.”

Research vehicles
with cameras that can see the road in all directions should be more efficient than a driver with just mirrors. Scanning lasers, vehicle-to-vehicle communications and a hive-like network linking thousands of vehicles at once for maximum safety are all elements available today.However, drivers are not so eager to embrace autonomous cars, so automakers are taking it a step at a time by gradually introducing drivers to more automation.

“People are more accepting of the idea,” Mike Kane, the Ford vehicle engineering supervisor for driver assistance technologies. “They always want their cars to do more. . . . It is going to take a decade before the masses fully accept the autonomous car, but they’ll get there.”

[Flickr photo via Daniel Dreier]