Driving Miss Lazy

The race is on for cars that drive themselves

(Cate Lineberry)

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During the robot race, many vehicles stopped at crosswalks, but often with the help of information embedded in the painted lines. And though they handle four-way stops, artificially intelligent cars can't yet discern colors. In other words, it might detect a traffic light, but it wouldn't know whether to stop, slow down or proceed at pace.

Which raises one final, major question about the future of our automotive industry: If we do one day have flying cars, and with them full-fledged "skyways," where will city, er, aerial planners hang the traffic lights?

The real Wishful Thinker behind this column was Carnegie Mellon robots professor William "Red" Whittaker, whose automated Chevrolet Tahoe, Boss, won the 2007 DARPA Urban Challenge in early November.

Have an idea that should be thought about wishfully? Send it to jaffee@si.edu


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