It is 2013 and the world still does not have jetpacks, Star Trek Replicators, or time machines. But before you give up on your dreams of a high-tech future, listen to what Lexus has just come out with. Their Integrated Safety team was on hand at this year’s CES Show in Las Vegas to show off a self-driving car.
You may remember that I wrote about Google’s Self-Driving Prius as part of my SEMA 2012 coverage. This car works in much the same way as Google’s car: it relies on a multitude of sensors and instruments to safely navigate its way to your destination.
Lexus heavily emphasized the safety aspect of the self-driving car, noting that drivers are often distracted by stress, sleep, or the incessant pull of electronic gadgets while behind the wheel. A driverless car would take you safely to your destination if you simply do not feel like battling heavy traffic. The company compared it to an autopilot system in an aircraft, where the computer does most of the flying but the pilots are ultimately responsible for what happens.
Lexus has some work to do in making the sensors smaller and less obtrusive, but I predict that engineering will be the easy part. The difficult part will be getting legislators and drivers to warm up to the idea of driverless cars becoming a normal, everyday part of life.
What do you think: do the safety benefits outweigh the potential risks, or are self-driving cars just another vaporware idea that will never become practical? Share your thoughts by posting a comment below.