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Automated cars would call ahead and schedule a time for the intersection

Some major technology firms see the future of the automobile as a much more automated device that can navigate on its own without a driver. There are, however, differing visions of what those automated vehicles of the future may look like.
Google sees those vehicles as needing no driver and being standalone with sensors and GPS capability to successfully navigate the roads that we have today without human interaction. Others see a more automated type of vehicle where the intersections and roads themselves tell the vehicles when and where to go.
A computer scientist working at the University of Texas at Austin named Peter Stone is working on technology that will help fully automated vehicles reduce traffic and navigate intersections safely. Stone believes that future intersections won’t need stoplights or stop signs. Instead, a virtual traffic controller that schedules when the vehicle stops and when it starts would manage automated vehicles.
"A future where sitting in the backseat of the car reading our newspaper while it drives us effortlessly through city streets and intersections is not that far away," says Stone, a professor of computer science at The University of Texas at Austin.
Stone is creating AI computer systems that will allow the autonomous vehicles to call ahead and reserve a space and a time at the intersection. An automated intersection manager would then approve the request and the vehicle and move through the intersection during its allotted time. The idea is that by scheduling these automated vehicles in such a way, there will be very little stopped traffic reducing traffic jams and allowing for faster transportation between two places.
"Computers can already fly a passenger jet much like a trained human pilot, but people still face the dangerous task of driving automobiles," Stone says. "Vehicles are being developed that will be able to handle most of the driving tasks themselves. But once autonomous vehicles become popular, we need to coordinate those vehicles on the streets."

Source: University of Texas at Austin

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By Flunk on 2/21/2012 11:01:29 AM , Rating: 3
If you're not driving the car what's stopping us from using an efficient mass transit system instead. Even if it had private cabins it would cost a lot less to operate than individual cars for every person. If you're not driving the car there really is little difference.

By JediJeb on 2/21/2012 12:15:07 PM , Rating: 2
Only when looking at it from the perspective of a large city. When you are at the point that houses are 1/4 mile to 2 miles apart and it is 30 miles to the nearest small town, how do you schedule the mass transit system to get people to where they need to be in a timely manner? That is like where my parents live, but even for me living just outside a town of 20,000 people which is considered a good sized city around here, anything resembling mass transit would cost more money than it would ever save. Buses or trains with only one or two riders would not be good economically or environmentally.

By twhittet on 2/21/2012 1:06:34 PM , Rating: 3
When he said "private cabins" I think he perhaps meant modular "cars" that would attach and detach as needed. When there is no other traffic, they could operate individually, when they are going the same way - they would attach/detach as needed, computer controlled to be as efficient as possible.

Though one might think engineering this and paying for it would be the largest obstacle, it's actually our fierce need to be independent and have "unique" vehicles that will not allow it to happen. We would rather be inefficient, slower, and poor than give up our sense of independence, freedom, and ability to be better than others by owning a shinier vehicle.

By espaghetti on 2/22/2012 2:49:12 PM , Rating: 2
I like my shiny vehicle. It adds to my street-peen.

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