I have long said that there is no legislation for drivers that will make them pay attention while behind the wheel. No amount of laws against texting and driving or using a hand-held mobile phone while driving will stop those acts from happening. If you look at the number prototype vehicles that have been surfacing over the last year that are able to drive themselves, I have to start wondering if taking the driver away from the driving is the only way to truly combat the distracted driver. I'm not for self-driving cars for myself, or for them being mandated, but I see idiots on the road every day that I would like to see behind the wheel of the car that doesn't need them to drive safely.
Google has shown off cars that drive themselves in the past using GPS and other tech that didn’t need a driver at all. Google is hardly the only company working on such technology, and this new BMW prototype is another example of a car that removes the driver from the equation, at least in part. The BMW car is not fully automated like the Google car. BMW calls its car highly automated, and the driver still has to take over the automated systems when needed. The automation only kicks in on highways if the BMW system designers have fully mapped out the highway ahead of time.
The car uses a myriad of sensors, radar, cameras, lasers, and ultrasound to allow it to determine where it is on the road and how close it is to other vehicles. The vehicle also has a database that knows the speed limit on a given road and will stick to that speed. BMW is still in the development phase with the highly automated vehicle. However, the prototype has logged 5000 km on the road already. Once the technology is proven sound, BMW may begin to roll the tech out to production vehicles. BMW's highly automated vehicle can determine, for instance, if a slower car is in your lane and can then pass that slower vehicle safely on its own. That sounds cool and I can certainly see that in a vehicle as a much smarter system for cruise control.
[via Yahoo News]