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Transportation Department Begins To Push For Driverless Cars

The Transportation Department has issued its first formal policy on self-driving cars, and recommends that they be used for testing. Semi-autonomous cars, it says, can also save lives.

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The Department of Transportation is behind government decisions on road safety and it’s just issued what may be a historic policy statement to guide all states: While fully autonomous cars should not yet be fully free to roam the roads, they can be used for testing. It also acknowledged that semiautonomous cars can save lives.

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The New York Times reports that the DoT is being forced to keep up with the cutting edge of technology, as companies like Google develop ever-more-sophisticated vehicles. While cars like Google’s that can navigate, steer, and control their velocity are definitely pointing to the future, the DoT is more comfortable with automatic technology that keeps a car centered in a lane or slow down if it detects the car ahead is slowing.

Google’s car is highly sophisticated, but other companies like Volvo are quite definitely in the game and are adding more automation to their existing vehicles, and there’s enough available technology for DIYers to make their own.

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I'm covering the science/tech/generally-exciting-and-innovative beat for Fast Company. Follow me on Twitter, or Google+ and you'll hear tons of interesting stuff, I promise. I've also got a PhD, and worked in such roles as professional scientist and theater technician...thankfully avoiding jobs like bodyguard and chicken shed-cleaner (bonus points if you get that reference!)

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