Continental Automotive, a company that makes tires and other parts, has put together a semi-driverless car for Nevada. Under the rules in that state, which legalized driverless cars last year, a car must successfully go 10,000 miles without an accident before being marketed in the state. Continental’s car, which is based on a Volkswagen Passat, should pass that mark this week.
Continental’s car is not completely driverless. Instead, it takes over the driving on an urban or rural highway, steering within the lanes, keeping pace with traffic, and avoiding collisions with other vehicles. A human driver has to take over to change lanes or exit the highway.
Still, this is a good first step. While the Google driverless car is equipped with an expensive, spinning laser beam that detects all other objects in a 360-degree circle around the car, the Continental car uses lower-cost sensors that are already standard on many high-end cars. Once certified in Nevada, it is likely that a car like this will be on the market in a couple of years.