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Five challenges for self-driving cars

Experts weigh in on the roadblocks and research efforts

9:00am, December 12, 2016
self-driving cars

DRIVERLESS FUTURE  Self-driving cars struggle when faced with variable environments or unpredictable situations. Cars that get maps, updates and other data from the cloud will also be vulnerable to hacking.

Self-driving cars promise to transform roadways. There’d be fewer traffic accidents and jams, say proponents, and greater mobility for people who can’t operate a vehicle. The cars could fundamentally change the way we think about getting around.

The technology is already rolling onto American streets: Uber has introduced self-driving cabs in Pittsburgh and is experimenting with self-driving trucks for long-haul commercial deliveries. Google’s prototype vehicles are also roaming the roads. (In all these cases, though, human supervisors are along for the ride.) Automakers like Subaru, Toyota and Tesla are also including features such as automatic braking and guided steering on new cars.

“I don’t think the ‘self-driving car train’ can be stopped,” says Sebastian Thrun, who established and previously led Google’s self-driving car project.

But don’t sell your minivan just yet. Thrun estimates 15 years at least

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