I remember when I wrote my first article about driverless cars several years ago. Back then; I couldn’t wrap my brain around them. I know how hard it is to drive in the vomit-inducing rush hour traffic in downtown Atlanta. I couldn’t imagine a car being able to do that without a driver. Well not only are these cars about to hit the road, there’s a tiny town being designed specifically to test them.
I’ve wondered about this before. There are so many unknowns when it comes to driving. You just never know what could happen, and reaction time is critical. I’ve thought about how the safety of these cars might be tested. I’m glad to know that it will be in a somewhat real (yet fake) driving environment.
Don’t get me wrong, Google has been testing driverless cars for years, but they’ve always had a driver behind the wheel in case something goes wrong. This will be the first time these cars are let off their leashes so to speak.
All of this will soon happen in a small, designated section of Ann Arbor, Michigan. According to Technology Review:
A mocked-up set of busy streets in Ann Arbor, Michigan, will provide the sternest test yet for self-driving cars. Complex intersections, confusing lane markings, and busy construction crews will be used to gauge the aptitude of the latest automotive sensors and driving algorithms; mechanical pedestrians will even leap into the road from between parked cars so researchers can see if they trip up onboard safety systems.
The researchers at the University of Michigan are hoping that by year 2021, we’ll be able to hail a driverless cab with our smartphones. I’ll admit, I’m skeptical. Computers fail sometimes. Maybe I’m only cautiously optimistic because of what I’ve seen in the movies. After all, the Johnny Cab in Total Recall became homicidal, and don’t even get me started on that nightmarish, driverless car in the classic Christine.
All joking aside, I’m excited to drive…err…ride in a driverless car. Thank you to the University of Michigan and the residents of Ann Arbor, Michigan for leading the way into the future.
Source: Technology Review / Michigan Engineering
YouTube: University Of Michigan Will Build A Driverless-Car Utopia (by NewsyTech)