Manufacturers Working To Bring Vehicles To Consumers In 7 Years

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — From holiday gridlock to construction, the commute around town can be rough. But what if instead of wasting time in the car, you could work, shop, even sleep?

As CBS 2’s Dick Brennan reported, the driverless car may make that possible — sooner than you think.

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“That will leave people a lot of free time to do other things that they would typically do at home or on their phones when they’re not driving,” said Alex Bayen, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the University of California in Berkeley.

A decade ago, driverless cars zoomed down the futuristic highways of the science fiction film “Minority Report.” Today, just about every major automobile manufacturer has a driverless car in the works — among them are Volkswagen, Ford, General Motors, Tesla, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Honda, Toyota and even Google.

Former NASA scientist Maarten Sierhuis is developing one for Nissan and says he wants to do for earth what NASA did for outer space — take us to a new frontier where cars do all the thinking.

“When the car can decide where to get off itself, make the lane changes itself, decide where to park and how to park, at that point you start to have a car that drives itself like a human drives,” Sierhuis said.

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Some driverless car prototypes have already logged hundreds of thousands of miles without incident with the goal or putting an affordable driverless car into your garage in seven years.

Proponents say driverless cars will reduce accidents and congestion because there will be fewer human errors.

However, Robert Sinclair, a spokesman for the travel group AAA, says a driverless car may seem like a good idea in theory, but he doubts they’ll work well in practice.

“All sorts of issues come up with the idea of driverless cars,” he said. “If the technology fails and the vehicle strikes someone, who gets sued?

“We’ve got a long way to go before we see these kind of technologies proliferate and, really, we have to decide whether or not they should.”

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