College students get front-row seat to study autonomous vehicle technology

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    Accurately predicting the future is notoriously difficult.

    Popular Mechanics wrote in 1949 that future computers would weigh just 1.5 tons. It was expected in 1955 that nuclear-powered vacuum cleaners “will probably be a reality in 10 years.” For decades, the forecast for self-driving cars seemed destined for a similar fate as a failed pipedream. But that’s changing rapidly.

    Truly autonomous vehicles — the kind where you work on the crossword puzzle while your car takes you to work — are probably 10 years or more from reality. They are Level 5 on the five-level scale of autonomous capability established in 2013 by the U.S. Department of Transportation. By comparison, your standard cruise control is Level 1.