In the next decade or two, robot cars will be a regular sight on the roads. That's the hope of Brad Templeton, who explains in this lecture how self-driving cars may integrate into our existing commuting behavior.
Some terminology: Whistle Cars – Self-driving cars that can ferry themselves to drivers in need of a car at low, safe speeds. Smaller cars will be more viable, as customers will be able to order up a car that fits their needs for that day, rather than bigger vehicles that may be needed across its entire lifecycle.
After a whistlecar putters autonomously to its destination, the person renting the car takes over and drives it at standard highway speeds.
Robocars – Completely autonomous cars that take no user interaction to reach their destination. These must be extremely safe before public perception will shift to allow them on the road.
802.11p – A draft amendment to add a standardized wireless access system to vehicles that would facilitate toll collection, vehicle-to-vehicle communication, and even vehicle-to-infrastructure communication, so that robocars might be able to talk to a city network of stoplights and have an awareness of traffic patterns.
Programable bumper stickers – The concept that LCD screens, ePaper, and other programmable display technology will allow rented cars to reflect the personal taste of their drivers. Think desktop wallpaper for cars.
Of course it's all probably a long ways off—one to two decades might as well be never when it comes to prognostication—but it's a future that even someone like me, who loves the raw experience of driving, would be happy to take advantage of from time to time. [via Future Current]