Future car has all plusses... sans driver

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London, Jan 9 (UNI) Do you wish if you could touch up your make-up, finish off that novel, handle your e-mails or simply sit back and enjoy the view while leaving the driving to the vehicle.

For most of us, that's a dream involving a chauffeur or perhaps a particularly selfless spouse.

But the car that drives itself might be only a few years away, General Motors claim.

GM is working on driverless vehicles that could be ready within a decade. The technology for such a system already exists, including devices such as radar- controlled cruise control and lane-change warning devices.

Some cars already have electronic stability control to help when cornering and motion sensors for crowded city streets. And a generation of new vehicles is fitted with cameras and sensors to make parking easier.

The company plans to be testing driverless car technology by 2015 and envisage them on the streets by about 2018.

''This is not science fiction. You're looking at these issues of congestion, safety, energy and emissions. Technically there should be no reason why we can't transfer to a totally different world,'' the Daily Mail quoted Vice president for research and development, Larry Burns, as saying.

A key benefit would be safer roads, as 95 per cent of accidents were caused by human error.

It might even dispense with the need for a driving licence but it might be harder to convince drivers to let go of the wheel, Mr Burns said.

'' The biggest obstacle is likely to be the people's passion for the automobile and reluctance to give up control.'' Later versions of driverless technology could reduce jams by directing vehicles to space themselves close together and maximise the use of space on a freeway, he said.

However, it is also believed that cabbies would become jobless, as will the drivers of heavy goods vehicles.


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