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Self-driving cars race in 'Pirates of the Caribbean' director's new comedy

Gore Verbinski is to steer a new film about autonomous vehicles racing each other -- with hilarious consequences.

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What would Captain Jack Sparrow make of a self-driving car? Daimler AG/Mercedes-Benz Cars/Disney

Self-driving cars are the stars in a new movie from "Pirates of the Caribbean" director Gore Verbinski, hitting the road in a comic cross between "The Social Network" and "The Cannonball Run".

With companies like Google, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo deep into developing cars that drive themselves -- using sensors to keep them on the road and avoid collisions -- autonomous vehicles could well be the future of transport. We've seen many self-motivated but largely fantastic cars onscreen, from Disney's Herbie to "Knight Rider" star KITT, but Verbinski's autonomous racers could marry fact and fiction.

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The as-yet-untitled film will see a group of software startups sending their autonomous vehicles on a beta test road trip from Paris to Beijing. Things quickly get competitive and the passengers of the self-driving cars attempt to try and take the wheel -- with no doubt hi-lar-ious consequences.

Verbinski promises "the funniest comedic actors of this generation" as "passengers who fundamentally cannot remain passive." The driverless car is "right around the bend," says the director, "and it represents an immediate and relevant opportunity to explore the classic 'man against machine' genre, spliced into a large scale automotive rally. Things are going to get out of control."

Deadline reports that Sony has bought the idea, which will be written by Steve Conrad. Conrad previously wrote "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" and "The Pursuit of Happyness". His comedy credentials will be tested in this year's "Unfinished Business" in which Vince Vaughn plays a hapless businessman travelling to Europe to win a big contract.

The planned race movie will fill the gap in Conrad and Verbinski's schedules after their film adaptation of North Korea-set graphic novel "Pyongyang" was cancelled following last year's Sony hack.