In the Public Interest

Driving Towards The Future

todayMarch 26, 2013 3

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Alyssa Lesa
KTSW News

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Society has come a very long way as far as advancements in technology. Automobiles are a prime example, they may not fly or hover, but thanks to technology, cars can now not only parallel park themselves but soon we will have cars that require no manual assistance. These are just some of the major improvements in cars this year. Every year each manufacturer will come out with something newer, and better using a different source of technology. According to Nissan product specialist, Richard Garcia, who has been working with the company for eight years, cars have improved substantially over the last few years in safety, material, and efficiency. Before the Global Positioning System, otherwise known as GPS, was invented actual paper maps were used. GPS was known to be put in just luxury vehicles, but now that it is so widely used it will be placed in upcoming cars and not as a feature that you would usually have to add on. Among all the new features of upcoming cars, safety plays a big role.

“Right now Nissan has blind spot warning; it also has rear object detection, so if something is moving behind you it will alert you, same thing with lane departure warning, all that is a shield around a car. If you pull off to one side it will alert you and pull you off to the side. Some vehicles have if you get too close to another vehicle in front of you it will slow down, and apply the brakes on its own.”
– Richard Garcia

Aside from safety a lot of other factors come into place. Such as different engines, cars with improving gas mileage, and electric cars. These are all major factors that not only benefit us now, but with the increasing technology this can only improve and benefit us more in the future. With all these upcoming features, Garcia can only imagine what the future holds for later generations.

“If you’re looking at Star Wars future, then cars will be driving themselves. You pretty much get it and it will take you wherever you’re going to go. You won’t need to worry about anything.”
– Richard Garcia

Google has already established a self driving car. This car recently came to Austin for a conference held by the Texas Department of Transportation. It was showcased inside the Hilton hotel, which is in located downtown Austin.  The Google team offered to give test rides for those who were willing to get in it. However Google isn’t the only company working on a self driving car. According to Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s senior research engineer, Ginger Goodin, who has been working for the company for 17 years, different vehicle manufacturers have already developed prototypes of their version of a self driving car. In January, Toyota and Audi introduced their prototypes at the Annual consumer electronics show in Las Vegas. Goodin feels that the self driving car is just not ready yet.

“I think we are still a few years away, at the very least. It could be longer.”
– Ginger Goodin

She has seen many research videos from multiple car manufacturers. In these videos they put the driver in the car and record their reaction and see if they can actually get comfortable.

“There has been some interesting research that has been done from a human factors perspective. At what point do people feel comfortable of letting go and letting the car take over.”
– Ginger Goodin

Garcia and Goodwin both stated they would prefer to drive rather than get in a car that will drive for them. Both said it is because of the generation they were born in. This year’s generation is open to all sorts of technology changes and advancements. From GPS, Smart cars, hybrid cars, to now self driving cars. What will be next? There are three states so far that have passed laws that allow the testing of self driving vehicles on the road.  Before you know it, Texas could be one of those.

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