UT works on driverless car of future


http://youtu.be/_jEt-PUq31QHigh-tech invention would revolutionize roadways

AUSTIN (KXAN) - Austin is famous for its live music, outdoor fun and lake-living. Unfortunately, it's also known for heavy traffic.

"People spend on average 48 hours per year stuck in traffic, which costs about $4 billion in fuel costs and lost productivity," said University of Texas Computer Science Professor Peter Stone.

At UT, there's new talk about a revolutionary high-tech invention that could change the way you drive: an autonomous, high-tech wired car that doesn't need a driver. It can manage and drive a car by itself by using a computer system that manages traffic flow, instead of traffic lights at intersections or roads.

They think one day drivers will be able to sit in the back seat and read a newspaper while they ride to work.

"The idea is that there's a computer program at the intersection that accepts reservations from the cars and the car says, 'I want to arrive at a particular time. I'd like to go straight or turn left or turn right. Yes, go ahead that time is yours' and won't let any other car collide with you," said Stone.

So why would anyone want to take a seat in the back of their own car and to leave the driving to their smart vehicle?

"Some people may use it as extra leisure time," said Stone. "You could be reading the newspaper or watching TV. Some people may use it for extra work time and productivity."

And more than just relaxing while going to and from, Stone said it would also be safer to get around.

"Intersections are also where many accidents take place, the source of one-quarter of all accidents and one-third of all fatal accidents -- even though it's a tiny fraction of a roadway," said Stone. "So really, we're trying to improve the efficiency and safety on intersections, and this could have a huge impact on quality of life within cities."

Stone said they're trying to get carmakers and government entities in on this artificial intelligence, but he knows it could be a long and expensive road getting there.

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