Self-driving cars by the end of the year

2013 appears to be a big year for ‘driver assist’ technology,

Audi has presented its self-parking technology, allowing drivers to press a button and summon their car. This would require building technology into parking structures, according to Detroit News. Audi was the first US automaker to earn a permit to test autonomous vehicles on the roads and the second company overall, behind Google.

Mercedes, meanwhile, is claiming that they will have a self-driving car available by the end of this year. The car will initially be able to handle low-speed manoeuvres, parking, and queuing in stop-and-go situations; but will eventually move into fully autonomous driving, capable of handling highway speeds.

The biggest barrier for the self-driving cars is road authorities, which have not allowed the use of self-driven cars on the roads except for testing purposes. In Australia, Victorian road safety authorities support the concept as a way to cut accidents, but authorities elsewhere have thrown up a roadblock.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Transport for NSW has labelled the technology ”a major risk to road users”, but New South Wales Roads Minister Duncan Gay joined his Victorian counterpart in supporting the technology, if motorists could quickly regain control of the vehicle.

Lauchlan McIntosh, chairman of the Australasian New Car Assessment Program, said Australian Design Rules had been rewritten to allow the use of autonomous emergency braking and that the Department of Infrastructure and Transport must revise its requirements to allow the high-tech cars on public roads.

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