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On The Road To The Self-Driving Car

Now cars talk to each other. Next they’ll drive themselves. We’ll look at the road ahead.

U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, gets into a self-driven car in Cranberry, Pa., Butler County, on Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013. The Cadillac SRX that was modified by Carnegie Mellon University went along local roads and highways operated by a computer that uses inputs from radars, laser rangefinders, and infrared cameras as it made a 33-mile trip to the Pittsburgh International Airport. A Carnegie Mellon engineer was in the driver's seat as a safety precaution. (AP)

U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, gets into a self-driven car in Cranberry, Pa., Butler County, on Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013. The Cadillac SRX that was modified by Carnegie Mellon University went along local roads and highways operated by a computer that uses inputs from radars, laser rangefinders, and infrared cameras as it made a 33-mile trip to the Pittsburgh International Airport. A Carnegie Mellon engineer was in the driver’s seat as a safety precaution. (AP)

No more dumb cars, the Federal government decreed this week.  Or at least, no mute cars.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Monday it will soon require all new cars to talk to one another.  Share location, speed, direction and more, electronically.  Vehicle-to-vehicle – “V2V” – communication.  Right behind that comes the next frontier:  self-driving cars.  First they talk to one another, next they drive themselves.  The auto industry, Google, and the law are all gearing up.  This hour On Point: on the road to the world of the self-driving car.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Tom Costello, correspondent for NBC News. (@tomcostellonbc)

Burkhard Bilger, science, nature and technology staff writer at The New Yorker.

Bryant Walker Smith, fellow at the Center for Internet and Society and the Center for Automatice Research at Stanford Law School and Stanford University. Lecturer in law. (@bwalkersmith)

John Absmeier, director of the Silicon Valley Innovation Center for Delphi Automotive. (@johnabsmeier)

From Tom’s Reading List

The New Yorker: Auto Correct — “While other drivers are gawking at him, he is observing them: recording their maneuvers in his car’s sensor logs, analyzing traffic flow, and flagging any problems for future review. The only tiresome part is when there’s roadwork or an accident ahead and the Lexus insists that he take the wheel. A chime sounds, pleasant yet insistent, then a warning appears on his dashboard screen: ‘In one mile, prepare to resume manual control.'”

CNN Money: U.S. unveils plan for cars of the future – “Various automakers have been working on the technology for years. The safety benefits have been demonstrated under both real world and controlled test conditions, NHTSA said. The technology could also improve traffic flow and thereby save fuel, the agency said.”

NPR: Putting The Brake On Who Can See Your Car’s Data Trail — “A recent report by the Government Accountability Office found that many companies collect those data and provide them to third parties for traffic instructions or research. It also found the companies’ privacy practices were unclear, making it difficult for consumers to understand privacy risks.”

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