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Car Tech: Volvo tech lets drivers read the newspaper, put on makeup

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Car Tech: Volvo tech lets drivers read the newspaper, put on makeup

2:45 /

Driverless cars aren't a futuristic dream; they're being tested on city streets in the US and Europe. As Volvo unveiled its self-driving car in Sweden, CNET was there for the ride.

[MUSIC]. The car company known for safety, is trying to remove one more danger from the driving equation. Humans. We think we can expand this autonomous driving mode, to other not just to a two lane highway. Where, we can go into streets and junctions and. More complicated situations, so. Volvo is the latest company to unveil a self driving car. Cnet's Ken Stevens, hitched a ride and experienced the technology, first hand. Now, I noticed that you had to manually change around this spout. Unlike other car makers working on autonomous driving, Volvo is taking a different path. They're basing this technology on sensors that are already in production cars today. There's really nothing bigger advanced that's not already available today, that enables the functionality that Volvo is putting in place. That means it's a lot cheaper, than the other solutions that companies are working on, and certainly a lot easier to put into production. But, it's still a work in progress. Currently the cars can't merge or change lanes, and they can only be driven autonomously on a single highway in Volvo's hometown of Gothenburg, Sweden. It doesn't have the vehicle to infrastructure communications. It's going to be required, basically, so that the city can send messages to these cars and let them know where there are emergency vehicles, or road construction so that the car can change lanes and get around them in advance, but that's definitely something that will be in place before these cars are made available to the public. Volvo did demonstrate a nifty self parking feature, made possible with a camera and ultrasonic sensors on the bumpers. If Volvo stays on track, a hundred of these self-driving cars will be ready for the public by 2017. With this autonomous vehicle tech, Volvo enters an increasingly crowded space. This is not one of those things where you have a lot of car makers sitting on the sidelines saying no. This isn't like diesel versus hybrid versus electric, where they've all gone different directions. Everyone realizes this is a major trend that is coming, socially and logistically. We're going to need to change the way we drive, and basically, do less of it ourselves as a society. Google's self driving cars, the most autonomous of all the driverless vehicles, have logged nearly 700,000 highway miles, and are now cruising city streets. Ford has developed a vehicle to vehicle communications system to help avoid collisions, while Audi's adaptive cruise control feature, can navigate the road when the car's speed is below 40 miles per hour. What's good about self driving is long. We reduce fatalities, reduce accidents, reduce the cost of insurance, make better utilization of roads, much better utilization of fuel, on and on and on. What's bad about it, is a single thing on that list. I like to drive. Fair point. But when you're stuck in traffic, or hunting for parking, plenty of drivers will gladly let technology take the wheel. In San Francisco, I'm Sumi Das. Cnet.com for CBS News. [MUSIC]

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