Thursday, July 14, 2005

No More Driver's Licenses

Researchers have been working on self-driving automobiles for a good twenty years. By now, many people probably think their cars will never drive themselves. Those people are wrong.

The military wants self-driving vehicles badly and when the military wants something badly enough, they find a way to get it. Which brings us to the DARPA Grand Challenge, a competition to build a vehicle which can handle long-range driving over some very difficult and varied terrain.

The best performer of last year's Challenge only managed slightly more than 7 miles of the 175 mile course. This year, that team has a good shot at completing the challenge. Check out Autonomous robot drives 200 miles. Based on their improvement, even if no team wins this year, next year a victory is practically guaranteed.

Once autonomous vehicles are perfected for military use, whichever company manufactures them will want to expand into the civilian market, and your driveway. I expect that by 2050, it will be illegal to manually drive a vehicle on a public roadway. Driver's licenses will be a thing of the past. As will speeding tickets and DUI's. Your car insurance will be based solely on the value of your car, since you will never drive it.


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