The newest driverless car has been unveiled today at Science Museum in London.
The Volkswagen Passat 2.0 TDI drives 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).
Car manufacturers worldwide have been competing to produce the best robotic car technology and starting three years ago, the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Urban Challenge was created to test the cars over a 60-mile course in America. At a conference in the San Francisco in February, scientists predicted robot-driven cars could be shuttling humans around by the year 2030.
This sounds like brilliant technology to me. Imagine how different our world will be? No more stressing stop-and-go driving. Perhaps the commute home can include a relaxing cocktail or two. Road rage will be a thing of the past. The driverless car concept excites me because Satellite Navigation technology has completed improved my quality of life. I would say that my TomTom has been the single most life altering technology to enter my existence in the last decade. I don't worry about being lost, I can skip all the pre-trip planning, I don't struggle with trying to decipher poorly written directions in heavy traffic. SatNav is like my best friend. So, I can only fantasize how blissful a driverless car sort of a TomTom on steroids would be.
However I have a few questions: Why will it take another 20+ years to perfect the technology? What happens at DARPA is it more of a smash-up derby? What happens when the sensors fail or the system goes wrong? My sense is this technology has a lot of bugs to sort out.
Until that time, I'll be driving home daydreaming about my envisioned happy-hour Margarita commute while my heels resemble clutch burn and my road rage simmers.