What’s the Latest Development?
Nevada is the first state to begin drafting regulations for self-driving cars, indicating that they may be identified on the road by a red licence plate. Practically every major car company, as well as Google, is working to roll out some self-driving features—ones such as self-parking and adaptive cruise control are already available on many models. Ford expects that some form of auto-pilot will be available by 2017 and that vehicle platooning, where intelligent cars drive much more closely to each other on fast roads to reduce congestion and fuel consumption, will be accepted around the same time.
What’s the Big Idea?
The irony of Nevada’s desire to make self-driving cars identifiable to human drivers is that smart cars are far less prone to become distracted, take a phone call, fall asleep or drive under the influence of alcohol. “Safety is definitely the number one benefit [of smart cars],” says Sven Beiker, the executive director of the Center for Automotive Research at Stanford University. “In 95% of accidents, human error is at least a contributing factor.” In some cases, smart cars will be programmed with human tendencies, such as creeping forward at a four-way intersection, to keep from sitting forever while more aggressive humans go ahead.
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