The Cars Of
Get ready for cars that drive themselves.
he car in your garage right
now works pretty much the
same way as the first Ford
Model T that rolled off the
line in Detroit. You get in,
turn the key to fire up the
combustion engine, put
your foot on the pedal and
go. You're the captain and the naviga-
tor, and the car does as you direct.
Today's cars, however, are a whole
lot smarter, and tomorrow's cars may
even be able to think for themselves,
meaning drivers of the future may be
relegated to mere passengers while the
vehicle captains itself.
Already in Israel, a fleet of about
10 vehicles patrol the border without
anyone in the driver's seat. Deployed
in 2008, the vehicles take the place of
62 September 2013 I RD TIIRE11D
some soldiers on the front lines and
prevent them from coming face-to-
face with potential gunfire or violence.
The vehicles use several cameras to
view surroundings as well as lasers
and radar to avoid hitting obstacles,
and are controlled by a computer
program that controls the car, navi-
gates the terrain via GPS and takes in
data and "decides" what to do when
a surprise arises. The vehicles patrol
areas where there is very little traffic
"Sensors and cameras and comput-
ers make intelligent decisions; they
can tell what is normal or abnormal,"
said Hugo Guterman, a researcher at
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev,
who helped to develop the computer
systems that control the car. "The
to work with vehicles that
Above left: A Terrafugia Transi-
tion flying car prototype seen in
is designed to act
do jobs, snow removal
an air show in March.
like two people
vehicles, for example, or
— a driver and a
search and rescue vehicles
Top right: A Toyota Prius modified
backseat driver to
that can "talk to each
to operate as a Google driverless
look to see if you're car driving a test course.
other" and work together,
all with minimal human
Bottom right: An Audi A7 outfit-
ted with a self-driving system
mous vehicles are
"In the future," Guter-
that uses cameras to detect other
vehicles, pedestrians, traffic signs
an Israeli company and a range of other roadway
will be built for tasks, not
for people. At a certain
'After being pro-
point, actual driving will
grammed to patrol certain areas, they be just for fun."
run on their own," said Gabi David-
The technology that will make this
son, VP of marketing for the company. possible is probably already in the vehi-
Guterman is currently working on
cle you drive, albeit on a smaller scale.
systems that can "think" and under-
According to the National Highway
stand different scenarios and process
Safety Traffic Administration, there are
information. The systems are designed four levels of vehicle autonomy.