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Thumbs-sideways on smart cars and roads.

Thumbs-sideways on smart cars and roads

Though already decades old, the movement toward "smart" cars and highways -- in which human drivers are more like "passengers with voting rights" -- is still in its infancy and consists largely of a technological wish list. That's the message from transportation researcher Steven E. Shladover of Systems Control Technology in Palo Alto, Calif. But he and others point out that in the wake of the ever-growing traffic congestion in our cities is a changing and more supportive political environment. Several demonstration projects, such as the "Smart Corridor" in Los Angeles and others in Tokyo and Berlin, are helping to build momentum. The ultimate vision, the researchers say, is a several-trillion-dollar system in which automatically controlled roads, vehicles and signals sense, communicate and respond to one another using a host of electronic and mechanical gadgets, telecommunications and computers. Safer roads that can carry more vehicles, goods and occupants to their destinations more rapidly and conveniently would be the payoff, the researchers predict. They agree, though, that the immensity of the project demands that they proceed with caution.
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Author:Amato, Ivars
Publication:Science News
Date:Feb 4, 1989
Words:181
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