Being stuck in traffic, cursing L.A.’s tangled freeways and the moron that just cut you off, is a right of passage for commuters in Southern California—it’s a horrible way to get to and from work but we’ve all accepted that this is the way it is, but does it have to be? If those crafty engineers at Google have any say in the matter your future could look much brighter, and be clear of traffic headaches. Google has been working in secret, and testing in plain sight, on a fleet of automated automobiles that can drive themselves , using artificial intelligence software that can sense anything near the car and mimic decisions made by a human driver. There is a big “cool” factor in Google’s research, as their automated cars have been regularly cruising the highways up and down California, but the long term implications are revolutionary: the same commute that you were cursing this morning could be a breeze with a network of smart cars on a smart freeway that will almost completely remove drivers from the equation. Is the commute of the future almost upon us?
Stanley Young, research engineer at the Center for Advanced Transportation Technology at the University of Maryland & president of the Advanced Transit Association