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


    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.