Motoring madness or a glimpse of the future?

  TopCat® 13:26 19 Jul 2007

Driver-less vehicle technology in several guises has been in development now for several years. Now this latest prototype from the USA click here is revealed and I've got to say that I think the whole idea is a waste of money. I can, however, envisage something similar in the future, when or if the world's roads become overwhelmed by vehicle numbers.

I can well understand the military implications of using high tech robotics in driving and operating, say, crew-less battle tanks and self-propelled artillery, but to end up in a moving robotic vehicle in heavy traffic would tend to raise the pulse rate, I reckon. It would mine! TC.

  Stuartli 13:51 19 Jul 2007

It would be the most scary thing I have ever done I would suspect - far worse even than being given a lift by the little old lady up the road in her Metro.

However, some of the technology is already in use. Mercedes-Benz, for instance, offers an automatic braking/slowing down feature if the vehicle, depending on speed, gets too close to the vehicle(s) in front.

  medicine hat 13:52 19 Jul 2007

Johnny Cab is just round the corner

  crosstrainer 13:56 19 Jul 2007

We all know how flaky PC's, microprocessors etc. can be...I really can't see myself hurtling down the motorway at 100mph, only to be confronted with a BSOD!

  John B 14:04 19 Jul 2007

It's happened with air transport; I think it will become commonplace in the future. It could reduce congestion on roads by allowing vehicles to drive closer together and almost certainly reduce accident rates.

That's what I think anyway!

  Stuartli 14:20 19 Jul 2007

There is already a means to allow vehicles to drive closer together (on the M25 for instance) to keep traffic flowing more freely.

It's achieved by variable speed limits.

  John B 14:28 19 Jul 2007

I was thinking about distances that are well below a driver's reaction times at any speed.

  newman35 15:46 19 Jul 2007

Future generations will look back and be astonished that we were allowed to drive lethal machines about at random, from a relatively early age to senility!
The technology is coming and will doubtless save many lives and accidents - and, just think, no more 'boy-racers' cutting you up. Motoring will be a pleasure. (Look Mum - no hands!!)

  johndrew 16:01 19 Jul 2007

I watched the item with interest but one part gave cause for thought where it was said that at a junction the `unmanned` vehicle gave way to the `manned` vehicle.

I wonder what happens when both are `unmanned` and how the system will know???????

  Weskit 18:10 19 Jul 2007

Thinking about crosstrainer's post, did you see the recent James May programme about the new fighter plane which is so aeronautically unstable that without it's controlling computers it couldn't fly but would fall out of the sky. Hope they have plenty of back-up.

  robgf 18:14 19 Jul 2007

I think that driverless vehicles are a long, long, long way into the future.
There are simply to many variables and no programmer can allow for them all, so any system would have to have, very fast decision making abilities.

For instance what happens if a person has collapsed and is lying in the road (a common occurrence on a Friday night in our area), does the car just think "speed hump" and drive over it.

Or, what if it snows, or hails, or is very windy, with lots of flying debris.

You could have a situation where the automated system drives in easy conditions, motorways, good weather etc and the out of practice human has to take over for tricky situations, a busy town center, or during poor weather.
Hardly ideal.

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