Self-Driving Cars: Where Are We At?

Some inventions from science fiction movies are now a reality, with improvements!

But what about self-driving cars?

Image: Self-driving cars, the future is now

The cell phones we carry in this age are far more powerful than Star Trek’s communicators. Our computers are talking to us with far more acuity than HAL from the first real sci-fi movie, 2001 a Space Odyssey.  And we can Skype with our friends halfway around the world….even further than Jane Jetson!

Image:1960s Artists rendering of self-driving cars

Will Hollywood’s self-driving cars turn out even better than we could have imagined?

After doing the research for this article, I have to think so. Take a look at the latest, most credible, video-shares I could find on this foreseeable innovation.

(I should mention that there are countless self-driving car videos on the web, but most are made by companies I can’t verify as credible, or too old to be relevant; so in terms of your time spent here today, I’m confident I found the best information for us.)

The following four videos will bring you up to speed (pun intended) on the future of self-driving cars.

First up, a great overview from March 17, 2015, from Protin Pictures done.

So the safety issues with self-driving cars seem to be the major driver behind the relatively slow nature of this innovation. (Another pun. I couldn’t help myself.)  However, I wonder if the slow process is, in fact, the biggest positive of this invention.  I, personally, know many people who await the self-driving car for the “advantage” of more time on their cell phone.

While some already are taking that liberty (yikes!), I’m not sure that’s what the earliest thought leaders were aiming for with self-driving cars. Most imagined a safer roadway, and more time to actually connect with each other as passengers.

Take a look at this next piece with Chris Urmson, the director of Google’s Self-Driving Cars Project, explaining the program’s future possibilities:

Google Self-Driving Car Project 2

OK… now that we know the history, motivation and possible contributions of the self-driving car, how does it actually work?

Here’s a video that brings that into focus:

 Google Self-Driving Car Project 3

So this is where we are in the process of bringing forth the self-driving car.

But what about the human experience? After all is said and done, we won’t embrace it unless it lifts us up in some way. Here’s a lovely piece that demonstrates the empowering wonder this technology will bring us…

 Google Self-Driving Car Project 4

Jump over to CNN’s full story on the latest in-house Google Self-Driving Car on here to learn more about how this new self-driving vehicle, which “sees” 200-yards “ahead” in all directions, is different from the previous iterations of retrofitted Toyota Prius Hybrids.

To have a look at another fabulous and much deeper article about who will win this race to invent, we found one called Can GM Beat Google to the Self-Driving Car? over at Bloomberg Business News. Take a look!

Special Thanks to Editor: Jim Aley Producer: Laura Ratliff and Timeline: Stephanie Davidson for this timeline and an educated look at the future. It masterfully puts this innovation in the perspective of time:

Image: Timeline self-driving car - the past

Image: Self-driving Car timeline - Present

Image: Self-Driving Care Timeline - Far Future
Image: Self-driving car possibilities
Image: self-driving car doors open

Nicely done, but I’m curious about the many unasked questions related to their predictions about the future.

  • Will cars have to look anything like cars that need a driver?
  • What will be the best fuel source for these cars be?
  • Will they just be for city drivers?
  • How could they expand possibility in a direction we can’t even conceive at this point?
  • Would this change the driving age for youth?
  • What would this make possible for people too old to be safe drivers, and people with severe vision problems?
Image: Flying car versus Self-driving Cars

We could go on and on with these important possibilities, but here’s a fundamental question: will “cars” even be relevant by 2040 or 2050? Will they go the way of the Fax machine and VCR tapes? What if we discover some completely unforeseeable way to transport ourselves from place to place?

What if we discover some completely unforeseeable way to transport ourselves from place to place?

Say open, curious and hopeful!

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