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Driverless Vehicles (Terra Futura)

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A driverless vehicle is a vehicle that does not need a driver. This would reduce the number of accidents on the road and plane crashes in the air.

Background

The Global Positioning System helped to make cars and other vehicles driverless. Before GPS, a whole lot of satellite navigation systems were devised to guide Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles during the Cold War. Due to all of these, the US Department of Defense decided to develop one single satellite navigation system. In 1973, work on the Global Positioning System began. The original purpose was to guide ICBMs. In 1983, Korean Air Lines Flight 007 was shot down. President Reagan changed the purpose of the GPS to civilian use in navigation. The first satellite was launched in 1989. By 1994, there were twenty-four satellites. The Global Positioning System revolutionized navigation. There was no longer need for a map. Very soon, vehicles would no longer need drivers thanks to GPS.

Description

Tech Level: 10-11

In 2004, DARPA announced the DARPA Grand Challenge. Laboratories were to submit driverless cars for a race across the Mojave Desert. The prize was $1 million. No car finished the course. So, in 2005, DARPA did it again, and this time, five vehicles completed the course. In 2007, DARPA announced a third Grand Challenge called the Urban Challenge to prove to critics that driverless cars could navigate a city. Six driverless cars successfully completed the course. The one in first place won $2 million. While later Grand Challenges focused on autonomous robots, the Pentagon continued to develop vehicular automation technology. Thanks to the GPS system, by 2015, 1/3 of the ground forces of the United States were autonomous. Not long after, public transportation became automated. Planes which had been using fly-by-wire were now completely automated. Ships in the sea, in the air, and in space became automated. Finally, cars became automated themselves. The number of car accidents, plane crashes, etc. was significantly reduced. So was the number of deaths on the battlefield. The death toll, in general, was reduced. Speed limits were increased. Traffic congestion disappeared. Air pollution was reduced. By 2035, all vehicles were autonomous. By 2050, vehicles were smaller, safer, and more high-tech.

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