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Cruisin': Driverless Cars?
In Dec. 11 Issue
Russell County News
By Ron Cowell, Columnist

Recently I was reading an article in AAARP magazine about a driverless car that by 2020 General Motors and Ford are planning to come out with a driverless car. I had to read about that.

They say these vehicles should be available on demand, and they plan to start with driverless Taxi Cabs. Just jump in the cab, punch in your destination and the cab will take you there. Hmmmmm I don't  know about that.

After doing a little more research on the vehicle I found that the driverless car has been a goal of the Auto industry ever since we gave up the horse that would walk a sick or inebriated owner home unguided.

Driverless vehicles have been tested off and on since 2004 but on the drawing boards long before that. At the first challenge not one competitor actually finished.  Then in 2005 the test was done again and out of 23 vehicles that started only five finished the course and completed the distance

Then in 2007 the toughest test was given at George Air Force Base in California where the vehicles had to run a course of 60 buildings, other vehicles, side walks, traffic lights and against the clock while observing all the road signs.

At that run six vehicles completed the course. Ford was involved in the challenge along with General Motors and several universities. The car will use a camera to monitor traffic ahead for slower traffic and will adjust its' speed to maintain a preset distance from the vehicle ahead of it and be able to slow down or put on the brakes and stop if necessary.

It's very possible, according to experts that the car will be the thing of the future.  Electric powered, assisted steering will allow the computer  controlled steering, the ability to maintain position in the driving lane and to apply corrective steering lock in case of a skid.

In case of a problem such as a heart attack, the system will have an ultrasonic blind spot detector to determine wether the next lane is traffic free, then steer across the lanes and onto the shoulder before applying the brakes to stop the car and it will call emergency services for you. Kind of scary ain't it?

The scheme can't be put into use just yet because it still needs a more reliable generation of highly detailed digital maps and sensors to operate such a very advanced GPS system. When that is made possible we could store the whole world in three dimensions and then all you would really need would be four $100.00 light detection and ranging units on each corner of the car.

Then if you add Wi-Fi car to car communication, the autonomous car would also see around corners at road junctions and even tell when an oncoming collision is about to happen. All makes sense to me… Yea right!!

It kind of makes you stop and think.  We went from the horse and buggy to the motor driven automobile. Since then how many horse and buggy cruise ins or shows do you see? With the invention of the driverless car, will the cars of today become a thing of the past like a horse and buggy? If you look on the bright side though, if that comes about and we find a way to soup up your driverless car you can send it to the car show by itself and when it's over have it come back home with your trophy! Sounds like a lot of fun to me..

They are saying the driverless car could change the rules of the road. Traffic jams would become a thing of the past along with traffic related fatalities. The way things are going will it come to the point someday that it will be to dangerous and illegal for someone to drive their own car because it will be to dangerous because of human error..

It all seems very strange to me but then again I can remember when I was just a boy and they said one day we will have pay TV.. I thought yea, right how they gonna do that, but we are all doing it today.

I'm just thankful I grew up when I did, Hot Rods, sharp cars, that good old rock and roll music.

We may not see it in my lifetime but what will be happening when our grandkids get to be our age? I guess only time will tell….. Till next time, Keep Cruisin (before you car goes cruisin without you). If your club or organization is having a car show, cruise in or function you would like to let folks know about send me all the information to me at, or if you know someone you would like to see featured in the article contact me at the same address. All information has to be to me at least two weeks before the event. Till next time, "Keep Cruisin."

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The Times Journal is a weekly newspaper issued on Thursdays. It was first published on October 13, 1949, by Andrew J. and Terry Norfleet.
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