Self-driving cars that take to the streets autonomously while passengers kick back and relax have been both a sci-fi staple and a technological holy grail pursued by the likes of Google, DARPA, and automakers themselves (Stanford U's self-driving Audi TT is pictured above). But before we can have cars that think for themselves (a la DARPA) or even “car trains” that sync up so several vehicles can follow the lead of one human driver, our cars have to be able to talk to each other. All of our cars.
“It’s unlikely, in my opinion, because of the heterogenous nature of the vehicles in the world,” Liebhold says of self-driving tech. “Although there are people who have a notion of the kinds of communication networks we need between vehicles, even if we made the decision today to implement something it probably wouldn’t be mature enough by 2020 to work.”
Our global wireless infrastructure is inadequate even for all of our media computing, Liebhold says, so the idea of rolling out even more sophisticated wireless infrastructure to link our cars and other traffic tech within a decade is simply not likely.
PopSci Predicts: Certainly doable, but not by 2020.