Drivers Wanted Download PDF
It is already possible to build driverless cars, trucks and buses. But practical problems and safety concerns mean they may never be allowed on the roads.
The teams competing in DARPA’s Grand Challenge (see article) have it easy. The driverless vehicles racing off-road in the Mojave Desert merely have to avoid boulders, dunes and the occasional cactus. That is nothing compared with the hazards of the open road. Put those same autonomous vehicles on Interstate 15—the busy road that links Los Angeles and Las Vegas—and they would also have to contend with bleary-eyed weekenders, huge trucks and octogenarians puttering along in mobile homes. Even so, engineers and scientists at a handful of academic and industrial research centres are valiantly grappling with the problem of designing autonomous passenger vehicles, buses and trucks. They imagine a future in which convoys of cars would communicate with each other and with roadside sensors to navigate congested freeways, ensure smooth traffic flow and virtually eliminate accidents. Continue reading