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California lawmakers want driverless cars legalized within the state

Few will argue with the fact that one of the only ways to eliminate distracted driving is to completely remove the driver from the equation. This is in part what automated, driverless vehicles -- such as the fleet that Google is operating around the country -- promise. The cars are expected to be safer because distracted drivers will no longer be an issue. Google's driverless fleet has racked up 300,000 accident-free miles.
Driverless vehicles can also allow those who were unable to drive themselves to get around without having to seek assistance. Other than making the roads safer, driverless cars also promise to decrease congestion and delays on the nation's roadways by eliminating accidents.
California is making moves to get these driverless vehicles on its state roads with one California legislator introducing a bill seeking to clarify that driverless cars are street legal. Google continues to be one of the major driving forces behind driverless vehicles, although there are other companies working in the industry.
Google believes that it has the computer science knowledge and financial strength to bring driverless cars to reality for Americans. "It's amazing to me that we (even) let humans drive cars," Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said a few years ago.
A lot of the technology needed for driverless vehicles is already available, and some vehicles on the streets today have many of the components needed to make this feat possible. Industry Association Auto Alliance represents Toyota, Ford, GM, BMW, and other major automakers. According to Auto Alliance, its members are individually exploring autonomous vehicle technology, and the association says that great strides have been made in the past decade.
Ford and GM, for instance, are working on autonomous braking technology that allows the car to bring itself to a complete stop when radar and other sensors the vehicle use sense an impending accident.
While some state legislators in California are trying to get the vehicles legalized for road use within the state, other states such as Nevada already allow driverless cars to operate on its roads.

Source: Detroit News

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The ramifications will be larger than most think
By twhittet on 8/23/2012 1:30:39 PM , Rating: 2
Self-driving cars are the future, but there are a lot more pros and cons than most people think about.

IF everything was automated:
Traffic jams wouldn't need to exist (except to accommodate pedestrian traffic and the occasional accident).
Average speed would increase (peak speeds would decrease)
MPG would increase dramatically
People could sleep or do anything they want while commuting
Travel would most likely increase dramatically

If we get past the technical and political issues, what would this do to our cities? Everyone wants the American dream. Everyone wants a big house, a backyard, etc. If mpg dramatically increased (making transportation cheaper) and was automated, Urban Sprawl would also greatly increase.

Some people already drive hours a day to/from work, what would happen if it they could sleep the whole time? Would commuting distance go from 1 hour to 4? A person could sleep only in their car, and use the other 17 or so hours a day to work or be with their family.

Would we create additional roads for these ultra-suburbs? Would there actually be more cars on the road at any one time because driving is now so easy? How much farmland will we lose to this?

The obvious questions will have to be settled first, but there are many other interesting questions to ask about the future.

By drycrust3 on 8/23/2012 2:48:22 PM , Rating: 2
Traffic jams wouldn't need to exist

Unfortunately, you are wrong here. Traffic jams will still exist even if most vehicles were driverless.
The forerunner of a traffic jam is congestion, which naturally happens when you have the concentrative effect of people driving from a wide area e.g. "the suburbs", into a small area e.g. "the central business district", "downtown", etc. No matter how carefully you plan it, you will get congestion. As I see it, "congestion" isn't the same as "a traffic jam", it is just one of the prime ingredients to it, which is when there are so many vehicles within an area they essentially cannot move without hitting one another, which isn't good.
My belief is a lot of traffic jams are avoidable, especially those that happen on a daily basis, and the key to that is proper traffic management.

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