The limits and possibilities of self-driving cars

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Volvo is one of several car companies working to make a self-driving vehicle reality. (Image Credit: CNET for CBS News)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – In the United States, at least 33,000 people are killed in car crashes every single year. Companies like Google, Audio and Volvo want to bring that number down with self-driving cars.

But how much can these vehicles, still early in development, actually do? What are the limits of current technology?

Anders Eugensson, Government Affairs Director for Volvo, tells CBS News partner the current possibilities are actually pretty impressive.

“We think we can expand this autonomous driving mode [beyond] a two-lane highway,” Eugensson said, referencing a current Volvo car under development, “We can go into streets and junctions and more complicated situations.”

Volvo is among several companies, including Google, working on a self-driving car. Volvo’s approach involves sensors already used in cars today. That makes it a lot cheaper than a lot of other solutions other companies are working on and a lot easier to put into production.

Right now, Volvo’s autonomous cars can’t merge or change lanes. They can only be driven autonomously on a single highway in the company’s hometown of Gothenberg, Sweden.

The vehicle can do some nifty self-parking though, as displayed during a recent demonstration with CNET for CBS News staff. A camera and ultrasonic sensors on the bumpers make it possible.

If plans stay on track, Volvo hopes to  have 100 self-driving cars ready for public use in 2017.




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