In 1919, the U.S. Army drove a motor convoy from Washington, D.C., to Oakland, California. The roads were so bad that driving at about 6 miles per hour, it took around a month for the convoy to cross the country. This historical crossing led to the development of our National System of Interstate and Defense Highways.
The car parts manufacturer has just completed another historical crossing of the country—it loaded up an Audi with enough sensors and computing power to drive itself across the country. From Wired:
An autonomous car just drove across the country.
Nine days after leaving San Francisco, a blue car packed with tech from a company you've probably never heard of rolled into New York City after crossing 15 states and 3,400 miles to make history. The car did 99 percent of the driving on its own, yielding to the carbon-based life form behind the wheel only when it was time to leave the highway and hit city streets.
This amazing feat, by the automotive supplier Delphi, underscores the great leaps this technology has taken in recent years, and just how close it is to becoming a part of our lives. Yes, many regulatory and legislative questions must be answered, and it remains to be seen whether consumers are ready to cede control of their cars, but the hardware is, without doubt, up to the task.
I, for one, am eager to give up most driving. Hell, I don't even want to own a car; instead I want to just summon one when I need it using my cell phone (or eventually via the implants that replace cell phones). The Wired article says that autonomous vehicles will be common by 2040. My bet is that that prognostication is way too conservative.
For more background see my article, The Moral Case for Self-Driving Cars.