Strangely it’s not a car manufacturer, but internet company Google that is developing a ‘driverless’ car.
They’ve been involved in extensive testing and even have a short video of a modified Toyota Prius driving itself, with a 90% vision impaired ‘driver’ taking a drive down to his local Taco Bell. Not bad for a man who’s legally blind.
Many car manufacturers are also developing cars that may not entirely drive themselves, but certainly handle many of the jobs that a driver currently has to do.
We’ve seen car models, mainly top of the range, that can park themselves. New technologies now promise cars that will drive automatically in heavy traffic (Ford are developing their ‘Traffic Jam Assist’ system which lets a car keep up with traffic and stay in lane, which they say will be available in the ‘mid term’), drive safely on motorways (Cadillac’s ‘Super Cruise’ will allow a vehicle to steer, brake and stay in lane) and take over the driving at a set speed (Audi’s ‘Traffic Jam Assistant’ takes over at 55kmh and scans and monitors nearby vehicles to accelerate and brake and stay in lane, even when there are no road markings).
The car makers are clearly serious about developing the technology:
“We see these as automated-assist technologies that can help reduce driver’s stress and add a new level of safety to their time behind the wheel,” spokesman Alan Hall says.
“We view automation as one of the solutions to help with the potential of reducing traffic congestion.”
Although we’re not quite at the stage where we can sit and read a book, that time is not far off.
…and in other news…
Three million miles, in one car
A US man will soon celebrate an unusual milestone, his car is about to hit 3 million on the odometer.
That’s over 1500 trips around the world. Seventy-two-year-old Irvin Gordon got the Guinness world record in 2002 for the highest mileage in the same car. He’s kept that record since, but will soon set a new one. He bought the red Volvo in 1966 for four thousand dollars and travels regularly in it across the US, taking trips to more than six states every month. As you might expect, he believes in taking care of his car and won’t allow anyone else to drive it.