OK – Not this year. But are they very far away? IBM's supercomputers have become the best Jeopardy contestant (Watson) and the best chess player (Deep Blue). Computers have faster reaction times than humans and there would be less variables for the car to deal with on the racetrack versus on a street.
This post is prompted by the April 18th edition of The Economist. The feature was about the future of the automotive industry and there was a section about autonomous vehicles. Nothing earth shattering was revealed in The Economist, but autonomous vehicles are definitely coming. The safety and efficiency gains of autonomous vehicles may leave us all asking in 30 years – "how did our society ever allow people to operate vehicles?"
Back in January I wrote about 8 Ways Driverless Vehicles Will Revolutionize Traffic Engineering. The Economist feature is just another reminder that the role of the traffic engineer is going to radically change during the remainder of my career, whether I like it or not. I'm trying to figure out what I need to do to stay relevant.