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Drone Cars

Future Tech: Your Car In 2015
By


The US Air Force is increasingly relying on drones to carry out bombing and intelligent-gathering missions. From a control room at a base in the United States, a drone pilot can guide a plane on missions in Pakistan, Afghanistan, or other hotspots. Given the availability of know-how to fly drone planes on missions around the world, why can't remote-control drone cars that you control from the comfort of your living room be used to pickup groceries or make beer runs for you?

Unfortunately, a number of hurdles before unmanned cars and trucks will share the roads and streets with human-driven vehicles remain. The main impediment is legal, as it will be a long while before statutes and regulations in most countries catch up to the technology and make bot-driven automobiles street-legal.

However, robotically-controlled cars do, in fact, exist. While they are not on the streets and roads yet, some are already in use for tests. Volkswagen, for example, has a prototype version of its Golf GTI 53+1 that relies on hands-off, electronically-controlled steering for the development of future models. The main benefit is that electronically-controlled steering offers more precise and constant data compared to human drivers who invariably alter their steering patterns during tests. Even the world’s foremost professional drivers, for example, cannot turn the wheel with millimeter precision like bot drivers can for certain tests.

The tests are used to develop cars with improved steering dynamics in relation to the steering angle and torque generated during different driving situations. What this will likely mean is that you will eventually benefit from the same level of steering control, which today’s high-end BMW or Mercedes models offer, in cheaper models in just a few years time.

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  • -8 Hide
    TwoDigital , August 18, 2009 5:58 PM
    Actually, the newer cars are significantly LESS safe than the older, heavier cars. Please see crash test and insurance industry reviews to compare cars like the Prius and Volt to the older (made out of METAL) vehicles...
  • 4 Hide
    quantumrand , August 18, 2009 7:46 PM
    TwoDigitalActually, the newer cars are significantly LESS safe than the older, heavier cars. Please see crash test and insurance industry reviews to compare cars like the Prius and Volt to the older (made out of METAL) vehicles...


    Insurance companies claim that the newer cars are less safe becaues more people have newer cars. Then they produce a flawed study to support their claim. That way they get the most amount of money from the largest group of people.

    They do the same thing with male drivers. Their statistics claim male drivers are not as safe of drivers as females, but their numbers dont take into account that males drive a lot more than females. Think about it, who traditionally drives who to a date? When you were young, did your mother or your father drive most? Then there's the fact that many women are stay att home moms (though that number has come down significantly). Anyways, the fact is, men are just as safe of drivers as women (if not safer), but more men drive, so of course the insurance companies are going to want to charge the most for the largest group of people. It's the same thing with newer cars.

    The US goverment does the same thing with it's tax raises. They raise the tax on the middle class because there are far more people in the middle class than the upper class. Although I think that's ridiculous because the majority of the money is held by the top 10 or 5 or maybe even 2 percent, so obviously it would make more sense to raise the taxes for the group with the most MONEY not most PEOPLE. Ugh.
  • 1 Hide
    jp182 , August 18, 2009 8:31 PM
    Wow, alot of technology that I'd rather pass on as it is mainly passive and will just make the car heavier, more expensive and handle poorly.
  • -1 Hide
    ocococe , August 18, 2009 9:47 PM
    No GM or Chrysler? Let's see a show of hands on who's surprised!

    "Older cars are safer" - the myth that won't die. It's true that if you're involved in a collision in a heavier car you're less likely to die, but side airbags, crumple zones, collapsing steering columns, and so on all increase safety. An older vehicle without some or all of these features is less safe than a newer car in the same class. This is a fact. Even if there is some weight disparity, that doesn't make the heavier car better. I know I'd rather be in a 2009 mid-size than a 1990 SUV, especially in a side collision.

    Also keep in mind that hybrids are concerned with fuel economy, which means less weight, which means more injuries during crashes compared to heavier cars with the same features.

    Good reading on crash compatibility between vehicles of different sizes: http://www.iihs.org/research/topics/compatibility.html
  • -2 Hide
    afrobacon , August 19, 2009 2:20 AM
    @quantumrand: You forgot speed. About 98% of all people on the road speed on a regular basis; though less than 90% of all accidents involve speed. Of coarse these statistics are based on a study from my local government, so the accuracy might be a bit off.
  • -1 Hide
    TwoDigital , August 19, 2009 2:16 PM
    Back to my original comment... I would aslo rather have a vehicle with 50 new safety features everything-else-being-equal. My main beef with the new 'green' cars is just that everything is made to conserve weight and there are a lot of shortcuts which cut into the potential safety that could be provided if we didn't mandate those extra one or two miles per gallon of fuel effeciency.

    The best solution is just to find ways for people to drive less (more [full] busses, electric train lines, telecommuting to work.) I give cuddos to the author who has done a great job showing some of the safety features currently being tested, I didn't mean to detract from that. I just ask that in the quest for greater fuel effeciency we don't scrimp on safety just to make a car lighter.

    Oh... and those of you driving SUVs, vans, and big trucks are not helping either, though you pay your dues when you fill up your gas tank and have to pay all that extra gas tax. :) 
  • 0 Hide
    TwoDigital , August 19, 2009 2:21 PM
    @quantumrand - also my comment about the fatality and casuality rate for the Prius and related hybrid cars is from the NTSB and not some "flawed insurance company claim" as you imply. Please check with the federal government 2008 NTSB safety report before you go bashing people... they have no vested interest in bashing hybrid cars either, as they kind of want people to buy them.
  • 1 Hide
    agentjon , August 19, 2009 6:50 PM
    Still no flying cars eh
  • 0 Hide
    AMDnoob , August 19, 2009 11:24 PM
    tht car2go sounds pretty nifty but kinda high maintenance
  • 0 Hide
    syavash , August 20, 2009 8:58 AM
    in 2015 we will probabaly be driving the current S-class cars, thats always how it has bee. The innovater is the S-class and the rest of the companies copy that later on.

    And for those who say heavy is better, u better see the ENCAP rating of the Range Rover comapred to the much smaller megane.

    heavier isnt better.

  • 0 Hide
    icepick314 , August 20, 2009 2:35 PM
    "The problem, though, is the legal framework. In the United States, for example, certain carmakers, such as BMW, offer services that track where your car is with GPS signals. It is also possible to remotely turn your car’s ignition and off, but it is illegal to do so, even though the technology exists. Admittedly, though, abruptly shutting down your car on a busy intersection or highway could be"

    how about delayed switch? instead of shutting down the engine as soon as the signal is received, the engine shuts off when the car is stopped? the thief GOT to stop somewhere at some point....at a stop light, gas station, or even his home...
  • 0 Hide
    belezeebub , August 20, 2009 8:38 PM
    I will take a accident in my 1977 3/4 Surburban over one in my Wifes 2007 Jeep Compass anyday sure it has no airbags is has this neat Stuff called STEEL, I have been in two accidents so far one I t-bones a 1995 Nissan that ran a redlight, I bent hims around my front bumper from the drivers seat I could see both of his bumpers his car was a "U" my truck had a clean spot on the bumper, second accident a 1996 Honda hit my read drivers side tire (he swore he didn't see me(Rolls eyes Sorry how can you miss a 3/4ton Burban running on 38's with 8" of lift over 1-ton running gear)) he totaled his car and scuffed my tire.

    you could make a whole car out of nothing but crumple zones and airbags and I know for a fact my truck would still offer me more protection, and drive away when the accident was over.
  • 0 Hide
    warezme , August 20, 2009 9:31 PM
    jeez, most of these neat things probably won't be available until everyone is to old to care.
  • 0 Hide
    enewmen , August 21, 2009 8:17 AM
    I see many readers praising the old steel cars for different reasons. Personally I still have a 16 year old Honda Civic with 300k miles, cruise control, power mirrors, moon roof, etc. Still gets 44mpg, has an air-bag, even survived a few minor crashes.
    I looked at the new Honda Jazz(Fit) and was not impressed. The interior doesn't look better and it's lacking Cruise Control and has no power sun roof(not even an option). Gas millage isn't better also for a tiny engine.

    The point is, I hope to see the kind of big progress I remember in the 80's and early 90's. Maybe electric cars with a 300 mile range?
    my 2 cents worth.
  • 0 Hide
    Major7up , August 21, 2009 5:46 PM
    A lot of cool stuff but half of them will take longer than 3-5 years I think. And what about comfort features? I want a mini-fridge!
  • 0 Hide
    AMDnoob , August 22, 2009 3:34 PM
    you know the Ford Flex can have a fridge, its an option
  • 0 Hide
    FSXFan , August 22, 2009 4:52 PM
    The programmable key for teen drivers is kinda a cool idea. On one hand I'm glad my parents didn't have anything like that when I was a teen, but on the other hand they should have. I see lots of idiot kids now that need more supervision.

    After a week of my car nagging me to roll up my windows and ease off the gas all the time I think I would likely jam a screwdriver into the speakers.

    The FLIR might have been nice to have last year when I hit a big black cow in the middle of the night.

    I've liked the idea of auto-adjusting suspension since it's inception and improvements are always welcome.
  • 0 Hide
    Burodsx , August 23, 2009 12:35 AM
    "Safer?", I want cheaper and more efficient. It'd save me a lot of money if the government didn't regulate safety to the extreme that they do. Granted I appreciate not having my car explode into a million pieces in an accident, I just don't want air bags.
  • 1 Hide
    Kryptomage , August 24, 2009 1:40 PM
    RANT WARNING>>> /sigh!!! Give me my muscle car anyday, I can work on it, upgrade it, tweak it, even change my own oil without a light going off. These car makers see to give alot but you the consumer will pay in the end. I've had my Trans Am for 13 out of its 16 year life and only thing wrong with it has been I had to change the fuel pump & alternator. If you want rubberband engines then move to Japan because we need to get America rolling again with our own cars. Death to Toyota, Subaru, Mitsubishi, Suzuki, Isuzu, UAW, and please china buy saturn so GM can get back to normal.
  • -1 Hide
    captaincharisma , August 25, 2009 11:43 AM
    newer cars are less are then older cars becuase there is more plastic then metal in newer cars. bacxk in the old days if you had a fener bender all you had to do was put a little paint on the bumper to fix it. today you get in one you have to replace the whole bumper because it cracks easy.
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