recommended reading

Auto industry drops robot chauffeurs in favor of the safest car of all time

Shchipkova Elena/

What's the difference between a robotic car made by Google, and the ones made by actual carmakers? The future, as always, was on display at the Consumer Electronics Show today, where Toyota and Audi unveiled their new autonomous cars of the future — concepts that should not be confused with the Google version, which is a self-driving car. Now, they're pretty much the same thing, with a series of sensors and automated controls that let a car think and act on its own. The much discussed Google car has a camera on top with a special LIDAR sensor and so does Toyota's new Lexus LS sedan. What the Google car doesn't have is a name like the Lexus's: Advanced Active Safety Research Vehicle.

Google chief Eric Schmidt has said that he thinks cars should be able to drive themselves. The auto industry would still like to sell you a driving machine, thank you very much — and make them a lot safer. This may or may not have a lot to do with Toyota's recent struggles based on safety concerns. (Google also uses the Toyota Prius for its robot-driven car.) But, hey, the Lexus is still very cool, what with the high-definition cameras that can detect traffic signals from over 160 yards away, front- and side-facing radar, and sensors that can precisely track the orientation of the car at all times. That sounds pretty accident-proof: When nothing feels wrong, the car lets the driver do the work; when it perceives a threat, the robotic system kicks in.

As you can see with this video of Audi's Pikes Peak TTS research car, the autonomous cars of the industry's future can drive on their own — but they won't:

While Google insists that its robotic chauffeurs will make driving safer by leaving humans out of the driver's seat altogether, a lot of people don't believe that. Plus, when things go wrong, the legal implications get blurry. Humans behind the wheel make a lot of ethical questions disappear — and robot back-up might make people feel better just in case. Plus, having a robot do all the work takes the fun out of driving anyway, right?

(Image via Shchipkova Elena/

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats


Close [ x ] More from Nextgov

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Modernizing IT for Mission Success

    Surveying Federal and Defense Leaders on Priorities and Challenges at the Tactical Edge

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • Effective Ransomware Response

    This whitepaper provides an overview and understanding of ransomware and how to successfully combat it.

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.