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How long before our cars drive us to the store?

While the cars coming out of Detroit have changed drastically over the decades, a few key factors have remained the same. The most vital of these is how the car is controlled. While traction control, anti-lock brakes and other advancements have augmented a driver's ability to navigate the car and avoid a car accident, the driver is still in direct control of the car. But this may soon be changing. Earlier this month Google's self-driving cars were seen around Capitol Hill in D.C. It was suggested by many that Google was trying to lobby lawmakers to hasten the ability of these cars to share our highways.

Earlier this month the first license in the country was issued for Google's self-driving car. It was the next day when that same car was seen driving in Washington D.C. While D.C. has not yet licensed any of these cars itself for operation on its own roads, like most states the District does honor out of state operators licenses. As the number of these cars is likely to proliferate, at least in the long term, it will be interesting to see if they are able to lower the overall number of serious car accidents in comparison to human drivers.

A Google spokesperson noted that during its extensive testing of the car, the computerized driving system logged hundreds of thousands of hours on the road. In all that time there was only a single accident, and that was when the car was in manual mode, being controlled by a human driver. Of course a computerized driver will not suffer from many of the most common sources of car accidents. It will not drive drunk or be distracted by texting.

Source: U.S. News, "Did Google Take Lawmakers For a Victory Lap in its Driverless Car?" Jason Koebler, May 11, 2012

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