Expect Self-Driving Cars Around 2013

Self-driving vehicles could be on public roads as early as 2013. In five to seven years, expect to see autonomous vehicles capable of navigating freeways, says Chris Urmson, member of a joint Carnegie Mellon-General Motors Corp. team. Vehicles capable of navigating urban grids are 10 to 20 years away, Urmson says at the Convergence Transportation Electronics Conference in Detroit. Sensor sophistication,

Self-driving “autonomous” vehicles could be on public roads as early as 2013.

In five to seven years, expect to see autonomous vehicles capable of navigating freeways, says Chris Urmson, member of a joint Carnegie Mellon-General Motors Corp. team.

Vehicles capable of navigating urban grids are 10 to 20 years away, Urmson says at the Convergence Transportation Electronics Conference in Detroit.

Sensor sophistication, validation capability and assuring performance in adverse environmental conditions are key stumbling blocks, but not insurmountable, Urmson says. “Technology is making great steps.”

Continental AG executive Peter Reith predicts the technology will launch in phases, with the first autonomous vehicles restricted to “special lanes.”

Adaptive cruise-control manages a vehicle's longitudinal movement, while lane-departure warning systems portend efficient and safe lateral movement. The next hurdle is enabling the vehicle to handle unexpected situations.

“Are vehicles able to tell the difference between a fencepost and a person?” Urmson asks.

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