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Software upgrades add self-driving functions to vehicles

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Driving in the notorious traffic on the streets of New York City may be a significant cause for anxiety for many. However, that does not mean they would be willing to hand that task over to a computer. In fact, NBC News reports that a recent Harris Poll shows 52 percent believe self-driving cars are dangerous. Regardless of people’s feelings on driverless cars in New York, it appears that they may soon be a reality.

Ars Technica, a technology publication, notes that technology already performs many driving functions, particularly in the recent upgrades Tesla made to one of their electric vehicles. These allow the driver to switch on an Autopilot program under certain circumstances. The technology used to detect favorable traffic conditions include the following:

    •          Windshield camera
    •          Ultrasonic acoustic location sensors for 360 degree detection
    •          Grill radar for forward distance detection
    •          GPS sensor

A person has the option to turn the system on or not, and it can also be personalized to suit the driver’s style. The cruise control is programmed so that it can stop the car, but it is easily overridden, just as with systems already in use in most vehicles on the road. Also, the braking system can be adjusted to increase or decrease following distances.

The functions the vehicle performs using this technology make driving safer, according to the manufacturer, but the person behind the wheel must still remain fully engaged. The car is unable to respond to traffic signals or steer itself, and liability for a car crash would be the driver’s.

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