Technology changes the language // EIT Digital

Technology changes the language

The car that successfully completed the 3,400 miles trip from San Francisco to New York

I drive the car. The car drives me. 

Well, it's a no brainer. The first sentence is right the second is clearly wrong.

And yet, technology is turning the table and making the second sentence as correct as the first, and in 50 years time, may be, it will make the first sentence wrong, or at least quite unusual.

Delphi Automotive has successfully completed the first coast to coast trip with a self driving car from San Francisco to New York. 

The trip, 3,400 miles long, started in San Francisco on March 22nd and ended in New York on April 2nd. A 9 days trip that was completed for 99% by the car in a self driving mode.

The car had to sense its environment continuously, detecting pedestrian, understanding when it was ok to join a highway lane, deciding to move through a crossing, beware of aggressive drivers, pay attention to roadworks, travel in dark tunnels where GPS localisation was not available.... 

That meant harvesting and processing a huge volume of data: almost 3TB to be precise, 30% of the data contained in the US Library of Congress.

According to the experimenters that were "driven" by the car, the trip went smoothly and provided important feedback to further improve the car driving style and the overall safety.

The feat was made possible through very sophisticated technologies, most of them already available although at a price that would make the car affordable to just a few that would probably invest that amount of money for a cool Lamborghini...

Hence, the real challenge now is to make these technologies affordable. Not impossible if you consider that a Roomba vacuum cleaner that is today sold for some 300$ has technology that ten years ago would put the price in the 30,000-50,000 $ range.

So you see. Give it a bit of time and a sentence like "I kept sleeping as my car drove me to the office this morning" would become part of the morning chit-chat, as it is today saying "I felt so sleepy that I had to stop and drink a double Espresso!".

Author - Roberto Saracco

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