Most drivers know that driving smart can improve fuel mileage, but what if a car could drive smart for you? "Intelligent" cars have been shown to improve fuel efficiency, matching and even improving upon gains provided by hybrids. These cars drive themselves using sensors and receivers to predict traffic conditions and then adjust speed accordingly to prevent "stop-start" driving that decreases efficiency and causes more traffic.
University of Melbourne engineers tested fuel efficiency of hybrids versus "intelligent" cars and found that hybrids got about 15-25% improvement over a non modified car, while the "intelligent" cars boosted efficiency by up to 33%. What surprised me is that the calculations included regular, "unintelligent" cars being on the road simultaneously. Imagine if the cars were BOTH intelligent and hybrid-electric. Gains could reach 50%! Fully working technology already exists to put this into cars and roads today but concerns about safety prevent it from being deployed.
Safety is a problem? I am not so sure if people driving is any safer than a computer driving, remember Knight Rider...that seemed to work well enough. Frankly, I can't imagine it'll be long before cars are better drivers than we are. And I'm looking forward to it.
written by Steve Bailey, May 18, 2007
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