February 8, 2003
The car of the future is not a sleek, black, talking sports car named Kitt, like that found on the hit show "Night Rider" in the 1980s. Nor is it the glass-domed hovercraft flown by George Jetson of cartoon fame. The car of the future is a white Pontiac minivan parked next to a lab at Carnegie Mellon University [the General Motors Collaboration Laboratory at Carnegie Mellon].
"This is the number-one university for these types of technologies," said Roger D. Fruechte, a director with General Motors Corp.'s research and development department. "We want to be the first to offer these types of technologies, and the only way to do that is to be working on them at the research stage."
Someday - maybe sooner, maybe later, according to the GM officials who just gave Carnegie Mellon $8 million to extend research on the smart car for five more years - parents won't have to worry if their teenage daughter is driving the family car past her curfew; a camera mounted above the windshield will recognize her face and place a call to Mom and Dad.