Drivers, Obsolete by 2040?

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Imagine going into Manhattan, or any crowded city, and be able to get off where ever you wished and not be concerned about parking your car somewhere and be relentlessly ticketed for any number of parking infractions by the ever-vigilant police force. Your car would simply stop at your destination and drive off to a free parking structure miles away. And, when needed you could simply call your car back using a smartphone or laptop and it would be there quickly, depending on traffic, of course.

With automobile makers such as Audi, BMW, and Cadillac, creating vehicles that can park and drive themselves, science fiction is hitting the road as we can expect for cars that drive themselves to become more and more commonplace. Automated driving has been theorized and sparingly developed in the past, but recently there has been more and more of a drive to create vehicles that move to a destination without someone at the wheel.

The possible bonuses of having a self-driving car are endless. There would be increased fuel economy as a car could hypothetically estimate the amount of fuel necessary for a certain trip and could maximize the efficiency of the fuel economy. Insurance rates would also theoretically go down as if all cars had sensors there could be no direct driver-influenced accidents, as automated computers would be doing all the handling. Time would be saved on an unprecedented scale as one could make a long-haul drive cross-country and not have to stop once to rest.

Dr. Alberto Broggi, a professor at the University of Parma, had tested this technology by having an autonomous car drive from Parma in Italy, to Shanghai, an 8,000 mile journey using camera based technology and really, little use of maps and no help from the traffic infrastructure. Broggi is also a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) who recently predicted that the automated car could, by 2040, take up 75% of the roads.


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