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Local scientists developing driver-less cars

October 22, 2012

Would you get in a driver-less car operated by a robot? Academics from the University of Guadalajara (UdeG) have been working on this futuristic concept for 16 years and are now seeing their efforts become a reality.

Working with the support of the German government at the Free University of Berlin, Mexican scientists have collaborated in the development of the electric “Autonomous Car.” Built at a cost of more than 400,000 euros, the cars are equipped with video cameras, laser sensors and GPS tracking, which enable them to recognize and react to traffic, pedestrians and road signs.

While the development of the Autonomous Car is an undoubted triumph of technology, it is unclear how practical it will be as a transport option.

The vehicles have already been tested with great success amid live traffic on the busy streets of Berlin and Mexico City. However, they will not be considered for use in such congested cities, because even if the robotic cars automatically respect traffic laws, there is no guarantee that human drivers will do the same.

The prototypes could soon be used in airports to transport passengers to or from departure and arrival gates and they could also be used as a form of transport on certain public roads within 10 or 15 years.

The developers say clients could one day order a driver-less taxi on their smartphone or tablet, with the option of tracking its movement in real-time via GPS. The cars could eventually be used by the elderly or disabled who are unable to drive themselves, but they are unlikely to go on sale for private use for another 30 or 40 years.

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