No Steering Wheels Needed: Driverless Cars

SmartCar

We have covered Google’s driverless previously on this Web site; the cars are now a familiar sighting on the streets in California (where they are legal). Recently, Google announced a new 2014 version of the driverless car, and this one does not have a steering wheel, gas pedal, break, or gear shift levers! The new design is a departure from the previous model which required passengers to take over in an emergency.

The company is building experimental, electric-powered vehicles (top speed 25 mph) that have two comfortable seats and big windows, but have none of the hassle of driving. A smartphone app is used to request the car which automatically picks-up and drives passengers to their selected destinations. The vehicles are equipped with electronic sensors that can scan 600 feet in all directions and the front-end of the car is built from a foam-like material just in case the computer fails and it hits a pedestrian. However, if you do need to stop it in an emergency – use the big red button!

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. View the video of the 2014 driverless car: http://youtu.be/CqSDWoAhvLU
  2. Discuss the implications of the car with students. What industries will be impacted? How?
  3. Group discussion: define the characteristics of the target market for the driverless car – demographics, psychographics, behavior, etc.
  4. Discuss barriers to adoption. How can the barriers be overcome?

Source: New York Times, Google, other news sources

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