The Automated Car

The drone car seems to be a possibility within the next decade/PHOTO VIA flickr user gmeurope

By Brandon Lewis, Staff Writer
@Brandon_S_Lewis

All you’d have to do is secure your seat belt, voice your destination, push the “drive” button and allow the car to do the rest.

Automakers such as General Motors look to revolutionize the automobile industry by introducing self-driving cars by the end of this decade. Last month, General Motors announced that its “Super Cruise” cars would be available in North America by 2020. The Super Cruise system would operate mainly through a radar and camera, which would help steer the car, maintain its distance from other cars and keep the car between lanes. At the moment, the system only allows the car to operate hands-free when on the highway but I’m sure GM will change this in later versions.

Google, everyone’s favorite search engine, has already produced its own version of robotic vehicles in California. No one really knows when Google started pursuing this venture but it’s really not a surprise considering it has delved into various product categories such as tablets and smart phones. The New York Times claimed that the company has been testing different cars with its experimental driverless technology, which enables the cars to drive on their own while mimicking the decisions made by human drivers.

The U.S. military tops the cake with arguably the coolest robotic ground vehicle out there right now. It’s known as the Legged Squad Support System or LS3, a four-legged robot intended to go anywhere that soldiers go on foot. LS3 can carry up to 400 pounds of gear and enough fuel for a 20-mile mission. The robot follows its designated leader using computer vision, which means that no one has to manually operate it. Unfortunately, these amazing machines are only for militant use and not available to the public. Maybe, this will change in the future, but who knows? Check out the video below.

I know everyone’s excited about the future of robotic vehicles but there’s always a downside to new technology. I’m curious to know how driverless vehicles would react to vehicles operated by a normal driver. Will they be able to decipher which vehicles are robotic and which aren’t? Will the technology hold up in different climates? Will these cars cost more than the average car? Will insurance for these cars be dramatically higher than current insurance rates? I have dozens of questions about the dynamics of self-driving cars and hopefully they’ll be answered as we approach the launching of these cars. But for now, I’ll stick to walking and riding the T.

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