Chapter 6 Heading Graphic

Imagine what life would be like if we could sleep in our car on the way to school or work! Read the text aloud
If you have driven a long trip, you might have wondered if the almost-mindless task of driving couldn’t be done better by a smart car than by a sleep-deprived human driver. An automated car could also allow elderly passengers to get around town without worrying about their aging eyesight and slower reaction times. Robotic cars could even eliminate the societal costs of drunk drivers. The challenge of automated cars, however, is that they must navigate safely in a complex, potentially dangerous, and rapidly changing environment. Read the text aloud
On November 3, 2007, eleven design teams and their mechanical progeny assembled at the mothballed George Air Force Base in Victorville, California, for the third competition of the DARPA Grand Challenge. The prize was $2 million for the vehicle that could complete a 96 km (60 mi) urban road course in under six hours. Each robot vehicle had to recognize and obey all traffic regulations. Each vehicle had to safely execute maneuvers such as lane changes and merges with other vehicular traffic. The urban challenge was much more difficult than the two previous robot vehicle races in that vehicles had to recognize other vehicles and make “intelligent” decisions in real time based on what they recognized. Read the text aloud
Six of the designs successfully completed the course, although two did so outside of the six-hour time limit. The winning entry averaged 14 mph during the race. As a sign of the continuing challenges of the new technology, some of the unsuccessful entries were eliminated because of collisions or because they froze in a traffic circle—a confusing traffic pattern even for human drivers! The New York Times summarized the event as demonstrating “that the state of the art in robotics has reached the point where the most sophisticated autonomous vehicles can now drive comfortably and safely on a city course while surrounded by traffic and other obstacles.” Read the text aloud
Several states have now passed laws permitting driverless cars. The Nevada statute “defines an autonomous vehicle to mean a motor vehicle that uses artificial intelligence, sensors and global positioning system coordinates to drive itself without the active intervention of a human operator.” The complexity of a fully autonomous vehicle containing those three subsystems—artificial intelligence, sensors, and GPS—means that the field is ripe for future innovation and technological advances. When do you think you will first encounter an autonomous car on America’s roads? Read the text aloud

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