Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Car That Drives Itself (Minority Report)

This is a shot of the interior of the Volkswagen Passat 2.0 TDI, which drives itself by using two eye-like laser sensors in the front and one in the back that scan road conditions, buildings, other vehicles and pedestrians over a range of up to 200 metres (650 feet). That's right. No humans needed.

This is just like Minority Report, except that I doubt the Passat 2.0 TDI can turn sideways while moving forward. It probably also can't drive straight up or down a vertical road either, but who's complaining? It's a car that drives itself for crying out loud!!

Apparently, there are several prototype cars like this, because the Passat is being taken to a contest against other self-driving cars. You can read the whole article here.

Personally, I think this is going to be standard in my lifetime. Too many errors and mistakes when a human drives. Cars guided by sophisticated computers, lasers, and cameras are much more precise. You can read about more self-driving cars here, and here, and here. You've no doubt seen the commercials for the self-parking Lexus, which is on sale now all over the world.

Also, while I connected this real world invention to the science fiction world of Minority Report,
there are several other sci-fi movies, tv shows, and books containing self-driving cars. Knight Rider comes to mind--oh, by the way...the original KITT car is for sale.

Another favorite is Herbie the Love Bug. He didn't have Kitt's charm and actual speaking voice...but he was a spunky little guy in his own right.

There's been decades of science fiction fantasies where humans are freed from the cumbersome burden of having to drive their own vehicles...enough with the dreaming! The self-driving car is here...and a day when we all own one is on the horizon! Unless they go all Terminator on us and develop awareness and start killing all the humans in terrible gory ways. That would suck.

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