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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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What happens...
By Erudite on 2/22/2012 3:23:33 PM , Rating: 2
...when there is a power outage and the cars have nothing to communicate with in the intersection? Do they all stop because there is no signal? Are they smart enough to pull up and wait their turn to go like humans have to do now when signals are out? This seems to be one thing I seldom see addressed with any automated car discussion. Imagine a busy intersection on roads with 3 or more lanes each way, with no power to anything in the intersection, and 100 automated cars trying to figure out what to do and when to go.

Seems like a disaster waiting to happen. And if the car makes a bad decision, can the person in the drivers seat take control?

When I watch busy streets in major cities, I think it's amazing that there aren't more catastropic accidents than there are. Maybe automated vehicles would make things better. But there are a lot of things that can go wrong with any computer, and I don't want to be in a computer controlled car doing 75 MPH on the interstate, or rolling through a busy intersection when it fouls up.

And what about hacking into these systems, either the automobile side or the intersection control side? Scary to think about.

RE: What happens...
By JediJeb on 2/22/2012 3:49:08 PM , Rating: 2
Not only power outages, but will the automated cars be able to handle things like ice on the roads? What happens when the car makes movements that the computer considers impossible for the car to make because the tires are now sliding sideways instead of moving in the direction they are turning?

RE: What happens...
By Erudite on 2/22/2012 11:15:55 PM , Rating: 2
I hadn't considered that either. As scary as some people can be driving a car, sometimes it just makes more sense to have a living person behind the wheel making the calls.

"It's okay. The scenarios aren't that clear. But it's good looking. [Steve Jobs] does good design, and [the iPad] is absolutely a good example of that." -- Bill Gates on the Apple iPad

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