There are two types of drivers (yeah, right!): Those who trust technology enough that they’d be perfectly comfortable trusting a self-driving car and those who would be scared to death to even ride in such a car. I know life is always more complicated than that. There are shades of gray. That’s what the comments are for (HINT!).
At TechCrunch Disrupt, Eric Schmidt from Google said, “It’s a bug that cars were invented before computers. Your car should drive itself. It just makes sense.” Why the world’s greatest search company is working on self-driving cars is probably as simple as they’re doing it because they want to do it and they have engineers smart enough to work on doing it. They’re doing it because they can. Google’s automated cars work by taking advantage of cameras, radar sensors, and lasers to detect what’s around the car. What’s more precise? Your vision, your hearing or a laser? So far Google’s technology has driven over a million miles with very limited human intervention. There’s been a single accident. It involved one of the cars being rear-ended by a human-driven car.
Google’s not alone. BMW is working on autonomous drive technology, too. The new technology brings a level of passenger safety that could never be matched by even the best professional driver. The tech can sense and analyze everything happening 360 degrees around the car. There are no blind spots and the computer is never distracted.
A car capable of full autonomous operation can contain as much as $200,000 worth of gear, so most of us won’t be enjoying passive rides for awhile. People working on the technology tell us we’ll see an incremental introduction of driver assistance options that will roll out in the next 15-years. You can already get a car that parallel parks itself. There are luxury cars that will sense activity in a blind spot and move the car out of danger. Other cars alread brake in cruise control when they sense a slowdown in traffic up ahead. Automation will make driving safer and travel more enjoyable.
A company called Lit Motors is bringing a completely different kind of technology to a completely new kind of vehicle. It’s like a motor cycle in that it only had two wheels. It’s like a car because it’s fully enclosed. It has a seat rather than a saddle and a steering wheel rather than handle bars.
The Lit C-1 is being developed as a fully electric vehicle with two gyroscopes that keep the C-1 up-right, even if it’s hit by a car. The target price of the Lit C-1 is $16,000 and the visionary behind it, Daniel Kim, hopes to have them available within four years.
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