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Colorado Firm Says Self-Driving Cars Many Years Away

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Google's-self-driving-carA new study by Colorado-based Navigant Research predicts that by 2035, 75% of all vehicles sold on Earth will have some type of self-driving feature, reports Steve Johnson in an article published Monday on SiliconBeat, the tech blog of The Mercury News. As Johnson notes, most new vehicles already have the ability to park and can brake themselves if they sense an impending collision. The Navigant report, which costs $4,400, predicts that by 2035, there will be 94.7 million vehicles sold worldwide that have some self-driving capabilities, Johnson writes. Navigant is a Boulder, Colorado-based market research and consulting company.

In a recent article in The New York Times, Paul Stenquist writes about that self-driving vehicles will greatly benefit people with disabilities by giving them more independence. Noting that science fiction writers have been dreaming of autonomous vehicles for a long time, Stenquist cites a 1925 Time magazine article about a driverless car that moved around New York City streets driven remotely by radio control, and the General Motors Futurama exhibit at the 1939 World’s Fair that foresaw a future of self-driving cars by industrial designer Norman Bel Geddes.

As this blog has noted, there are several automakers working on self-driving cars. Nissan, whose chief executive, Carlos Ghosn, said in August that the company would have a car on the market by 2020 that featured autonomous drive technology, Stenquist writes. However, he adds, “Mr. Ghosn did not promise a vehicle that could be operated without a driver at the wheel, and a Nissan spokeswoman, Wendy Payne, said the company had not studied the disability issue.”

General Motors plans to introduce its “Super Cruise,” a driver-assistance system, in its 2017 model Cadillacs, Stenquist writes. That system will make those cars partly autonomous on highways; however, GM spokesman Dan Flores told Stenquist that “we’re years away” from benefits that could help the handicapped.

Audi and Google have been testing self-driving vehicles on California roads, Stenquist notes, with Audi spokesman Brad Stertz telling him that “Fully autonomous driving is mostly a human generation away, no matter who is making promises.” Google told The New York Times that disabled people would only be helped once vehicles can operate without any human intervention, Stenquist writes. Google also told him that fully autonomous vehicles will prevent human errors and increase driving safety.

Speaking of human errors while driving, in a related article on Fox News, Brooke Crothers writes that in an AT&T-sponsored survey, more than 90% of frequent drivers said that although they know that texting and driving is dangerous, they continue to do it. The scariest part, Crothers writes, is that drivers find all kinds of reasons to justify their texting behavior, according to the study. For example, nearly 30% believe they can multi-task while driving. Dr. David Greenfield, who helped to design the AT&T study, told Crothers that people are addicted to texting while driving, an addiction that is “a complete cognitive distortion.”

Crothers writes:

‘People drive more erratically when they’re texting than when they’re drinking and driving [and] we know that people are six times more likely to be in an accident if they’re texting and driving,’ Dr. David Greenfield, founder of The Center for Internet and Technology Addiction and Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at The University of Connecticut, told Greenfield was instrumental in designing the survey for AT&T.

AT&T is now offering a smartphone app to prevent distracted driving, as Tech2 news staff writes. The app, called DriveMode, turns on when it detects it is moving at 15 mph or more, Crothers writes, and turns off when the motion stops. It automatically responds to SMS and MMS text messages when the vehicle is moving to let anyone sending the driver a message know that he or she is driving, Crothers writes.


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