March 4, 2003
The slick advertising of car manufacturers notwithstanding, automobiles are not always the positive force in our lives we would like them to be. Every morning and evening we struggle to navigate clogged highways while we're adjusting the radio, talking on the phone, and fiddling with maps. But what if your next car was a kinder, gentler automobile -- one that watched out for your safety, was intelligent enough to keep track of your schedule, helped plan the least congested route to work or home or the grocery store? What if it knew when it was malfunctioning, even before you noticed any symptoms, and it told you and the manufacturer? That may be precisely where cars are headed.
"I imagine more scenarios 10 years from now," said Ed Schlesinger, Professor and Associate Head of ECE; Co-Director, General Motors Collaboration Laboratory at Carnegie Mellon, "when you're driving into a new city and you can say to your car,
Where's the nearest public parking, how do I get there, and can you recommend a good Italian restaurant?' The car will say,Three blocks up on your right, there are spaces there. I've got the restaurant, and, by the way, here's an online coupon for you, too.'"