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I want my flying carpet - driverless cars are coming

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Many of the firms attending and exhibiting at 2014 CES are actively working towards providing autonomously controlled automobiles in our lifetime. No, not this year, but as early as the end of this decade you could be reading your Kindle as you drive to work.

In surveying the authorities on the subject, it appears that some serious automation will appear within five years, with the major strides being ten years away. Look first for automatic steering assist and automatic safe following distances. The goal is that the car will detect the white lines and keep you centered as you progress forward. Volvo and Mercedes already are delivering limited lane-centering technology for this year’s models. Audi is talking end of 2014 or early 2015.

Google is still logging miles (over 500,000 since 2009) on its fleet of 24 Lexus SUV’s without an accident to date. Carnegie Mellon recently drove its latest CUV over 33 miles to the Pittsburgh Airport, on suburban roads and highways at speeds to 65 mph while successfully spotting and avoiding pedestrians and bicyclists.

The Highway Safety Administration is eager for the technology to succeed, seeing it as a way to lessen both highway accidents and traffic congestion.

Presently, reports are that Nissan, Audi, GM, Hyundai, Mercedes, Volvo and Tesla are all actively pursuing various stages of autonomous operation in their vehicles. Florida, California and Nevada already have laws on the books regarding driverless vehicles. Look for others to follow quickly as this technology gains traction.

You won’t believe what else is going on at the International Consumer Electronics Show. Click here for more CES 2014 news and features

Doug Bardwell, based in Cleveland, OH, writes about interesting new travel technology topics, across the country and around the world at DougBardwell.com. Feel free to drop him a line at travel.dougbardwell@gmail.com with suggestions for future products to be reviewed. If you've ever used one of the products he's reviewed, please leave your thoughts in the comment box below. To get his stories delivered to your inbox, click the RSS feed or the "Subscribe" button above or follow him on Facebook , Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. To read Doug’s disclosure notice, click here.

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