'Self-Driving' Car Unveiled - New York News

'Self-Driving' Car Unveiled

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German scientists unveiled Wednesday the latest self-driving car, a phenomenon that its proponents said would sharply reduce accidents, help the environment and transform cities.

The car -- dubbed the Made in Germany (MIG) by its engineers at Berlin's Free University -- uses cameras, laser scanners and satellite navigation to "see" other vehicles and pedestrians as well as deal with traffic situations.

"Cars that use sensors to recognize other vehicles, pedestrians and bikes will in future drive more safely than people, who lose concentration and get tired," the university said.

The technology was expected to sharply reduce the number of cars on the road because many people would no longer need their own vehicles if driverless cars were pooled in car-sharing initiatives, the MIG's developers claim.

"Most cars spend 90 to 95 percent of the time parked on the side of the road ... Our aim is to give back most of the roads back to pedestrians," they said. "In the future, people will wonder why at the beginning of the 21st century we still drove our own cars."

The MIG, which looks like a regular car with a camera on top, is by no means the first self-driving car. U.S. technology giant Google said this week that its driverless cars -- but also with a human inside -- already traveled 140,000 miles (225,000 kilometers) around the San Francisco Bay area.

Engineers working with both Google and Berlin's Free University took part in 2007 in the DARPA Urban Challenge organized by the U.S. government, which involved driverless cars developed by 35 teams from around the world.

Prototypes so far have always had a human inside who could take the controls in case something went wrong.

Copyright 2010 AFP. All rights reserved.

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