It’s shortly before dawn, and the handful of early-morning commuters on the fog-shrouded suburban highway don’t see the deer meandering across the road. Luckily, though, their cars see the animal.

In an instant, the closest vehicle quickly applies its brakes and turns its wheels, steering around an otherwise imminent collision. It then sends warning messages to oncoming traffic, as well as to the vehicles behind it, which dutifully apply their brakes and slow to a near-crawl as the deer passes.



None of the drivers, however, is disturbed by the near miss. A few are too engaged in their morning newspapers; a couple more are snoozing for a few more minutes before arriving at the office. All are blissfully unaware of the incident because they, the “drivers,” aren’t driving; they’re being chauffeured by their self-navigating vehicles.



Sound impossible? Many automotive experts don’t think so. The technological pieces needed for a self-navigating vehicle are already falling into place, they say. But it will take at least two to three decades before those pieces will be assembled into a car that drives itself.



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