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Advances in automotive technology never cease to amaze. In the past, the best technology may have involved automotive parts, such as durable brake lines for Mustangs, or maybe even Mustang heads that could stand up to the toughest of situations. Today, however, automotive technology must go far beyond quality mechanical parts into the realm of automated systems.

Just take a look at one hobby that has transgressed into the world of sport: remote controlled cars. No, not the miniature cars you’d get from a toy store. We’re talking about full-sized, completely functional automobiles…with absolutely no one in the driver seat.

Stanford University Leads the Way

Whether their research was intentionally aimed at advances in commercial automotive technology, or it was just a fun project to work on to see if they could, a team at Stanford University will be entering a fully robotic vehicle into the Pike’s Peak International Hill Climb this year.

The beauty of the technology this team mastered is that it is capable of pushing the car to its most extreme limits while ensuring the safety of the passengers. Complex formulas fed into the stacks of computers in the car allows the vehicle to calculate the maximum speed that it can round a curve while avoiding accident. The only human influence is a person in the passenger seat operating the remote control.

A Sign of Things to Come?

Driverless technology has long been a theme of sci-fi films and a dream of automotive technology innovators. Imagine a world in which a person could enter their vehicle, program a destination, and then sit back and let the car do all the work.

Just think about the increase in productivity you could gain from being able to polish up a report on the way to a meeting or send out the morning emails during your drive to work. On the other hand, consider the opportunity for relaxation when you could easily nap through your daily commute or not worry about the stress that comes from dealing with other drivers on the road.

With technology, virtually anything is possible. It’s just a question of when the technology will be ready for commercial use. Will automakers seize the opportunity to become the first fully automated driving brand and deliver the future to their consumers? If so, which brand will be the first to the finish line?

Automotive researchers are constantly exploring new ways to improve the driver experience, so there’s no reason to say that at least one manufacturer isn’t already working on a practical driverless system. We just don’t know who it may be.

If history is any indicator however, driverless cars are probably well within the range of future possibilities. Sci-fi concepts have a funny way of becoming reality given enough time, and it’s happening at a progressively faster pace as technology becomes stronger and better.

This guest blog post was written by Shane who specializes in automotive news and parts, including brake lines for Mustangs.