Sunday, October 10, 2010

Driverless Cars in My Lifetime?

A few months back a Vistage speaker said I'd see driverless cars in my lifetime.  I wanted to believe that, but I remained a bit of a skeptic.

Then, I saw this TechCrunch article claiming that Google has automatic cars that, combined, have already logged 140,000+ miles.  The article reports the cars have crossed the Golden Gate bridge, among other landmarks.  I believed it when I read it directly on the Official Google Blog.

We've had planes with autopilot for decades.  UAV's have been deployed in the military for years now.  Even one local manufacturer here in Licking County, Screen Machine Industries, already sells heavy screening and rock crushing machines that are unmanned.  Look ma, no crew cab.

Driverless cars in my lifetime, though?  Maybe so.

I can also see a Licking County future in there. The Google car uses sensors and radar, the sorts that Boeing and Goodrich are familiar with in Heath. The kind of precision instrumentation a highway full of such cars would require can best be found at Bionetics and Boeing where they already measure tolerances to the arcsecond (one one millionth of an inch).

Maybe there's a future for such cars and, just as excitedly, a future for manufacturing such cars and their components in Licking County, Ohio.


Take Action:  Mark your calendar early. In four months, on Sunday, February 13, 2011 from Noon to 4 p.m., STEMFest will be held at The Works. The event puts the best of the local use of science, technology, engineering, and math on display for parents and their kids to see.

By the way, one of those Screen Machine Industries unmanned, wirelessly-controlled machines is expected to be there too.

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