Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Coming Attractions

If we continue to lollygag, we will be buying our robocars from China.

The select global fleet of self-driving cars has a new Chinese addition, and the developers claim the intellectual property behind it was created entirely at a Chinese university.

After gaining early publicity five years ago, the robot-driven vehicle made the trip between the interior Chinese metropolises of Changsha and Wuhan in three hours and 20 minutes, the China Daily reported.

The state-run paper reported that the drive took place in inclement weather on July 14, but the vehicle nonetheless managed to overtake 67 other vehicles at an average speed of 54 miles per hour.

The Chinese project is hardly alone. Autonomous vehicles have been in development worldwide for years, with much of the action centered around the DARPA Grand Challenge competitions, supported by the U.S. Department of Defense.

One team of veterans of the DARPA competitions last year set out for the 2010 Shanghai World Expo from Parma, Italy, with a vehicle that handled the driving 90 percent of the time.

Google has also developed a driverless car system for a small fleet of modified Toyota Priuses, and told The New York Times last year that the cars had driven 140,000 miles with minimal human interference--on public roads.