Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Our Driverless Car Future: Utopia or Wasteland?

TechNewsWorld - We may be able to peel the pavement off Paradise and get rid of a lot of parking lots if driverless cars catch on. In one futuristic scenario, you'd log onto the Web, summon your ride, and it would provide door-to-door service, no tip required. True, you'd lose the spontaneity of just jumping into the car and taking off -- but you likely wouldn't miss driving in circles looking for a parking spot.

Google's so-called driverless car has sparked speculation that it will bring about drastic changes in our cities.

Some prognosticators foresee new cities with narrower streets, fewer parking spaces, and hidden sensors instead of traffic lights, while others fear there might be a new flight to the suburbs like the 1960s exodus. It's a battle between scenarios from The Jetsons and Mad Max.

However, that's likely oversimplifying the issue.

"For the foreseeable future, it will be necessary to have a driver in the driver's seat," Roger Lanctot, an associate director at Strategy Analytics, told TechNewsWorld. "Google's car is a self-driving car ... driverless cars will only arrive if and when all cars are connected to one another and the infrastructure."

That may well be more than 20 years away, because "there are too many questions marks involved -- questions around liability, insurance, regulatory models," suggested Praveen Chandrasekar, a research manager at Frost & Sullivan.   More