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Nevada has recently licensed the first autonomous commercial vehicle. The Freightliner Inspiration semi-truck promises to make the road safer while cutting back on traffic congestion and reducing fuel consumption. But don’t expect to see completely driverless trucks on the road any time soon. The Freightliner still needs a driver to handle emergency situations and the truck cannot pass slower vehicles all on its own.
However, the concept of the self-driving vehicle isn’t new. The Google self-driving car has been in the works for a while and Apple has also been working on the concept. If anyone can overcome the massive software difficulties involved, it’s these two digital giants. And they aren’t the only ones. Major manufacturers like Ford and GM, along with smaller companies like Tesla, are all working on building autonomous self-driving cars.
However, there’s still a way to go. But, like so many other forms of digital technology, convenience is a big selling point. The up and coming executive can work on that report while sitting behind the wheel and not driving as his car drives itself to work. Texting while driving will end and bumper stickers reading, “Get off the damn phone and drive!” will disappear. Safety will increase as accidents are reduced and the automobile may even cease to be an object of personal expression as driving is no longer an example of human skill. Vehicle ownership may even disappear. Want to go shopping? Just make a phone call and an autonomous vehicle will drive itself to your door, take you on your errands and then bring you home, drop you off and then head out on its next assignment.
Is this a vision of the future? Well... maybe. It’s important to remember that people hardly ever demand improvements in technology. Sometimes, they don’t even trust them. However, the day inevitably comes when that new technology becomes so ingrained that people can’t conceive of living without it. The next “can’t live without” technology is already on the road.
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