The technology is real, the cars can now drive legally and the debate is starting on whether society is better off when software is behind the wheel.
Automotive supplier Continental is testing a self-driving car that, by month's end, could be among the first licensed for use on public roads in Nevada, the first state to pass laws governing driverless vehicles.
Continental, which has its U.S. headquarters in Auburn Hills, removed brake and steering controls in a Volkswagen Passat and replaced them with sensors and advanced technology to read the surroundings and drive accordingly.
To qualify for Nevada's special license, Continental engineers have racked up and documented almost 10,000 miles of autonomous driving. That included a recent trip from Las Vegas to Brimley, Mich., near Sault Ste. Marie, where Continental has a development and testing center nestled in the forest. More than 90% of the journey was without a hand on the wheel or a foot on a pedal, said Ibro Muharemovic, one of three engineers riding shotgun.
A final trip is being planned to hit the 10,000 mark in the next few weeks.
Most of the technology is already on the market as safety features to avoid accidents, or at least mitigate their severity.
By Alisa Priddle - Detroit Free Press Business Writer
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