The autonomous car’s reality check

 

A CAR sprouting a dome containing a spinning laser sensor and festooned with cameras barely draws a second glance as it edges through the crowded streets of Berkeley. Self-driving cars are no longer a rare sight on Californian roads. Over 100 autonomous vehicles from a dozen manufacturers are now being tested in public, covering hundreds of thousands of kilometres each year.

But this car is different: its human driver keeps his hands firmly on the wheel. The vehicle, nicknamed “George” by HERE, a Berlin-based mapping company owned by BMW, Audi and Daimler, is not driving itself but collecting data that enable other cars to do so.

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