Immigrant of the Day: Dr. Peter Sweatman – Transportation Scientist
If you haven’t heard that self-driving cars are on the way, you’ve been completely oblivious to the news. Well, maybe not since this has been a dream of the auto industry since the 1920s. Here’s a video of a “robot car” in 1971 with the narrator predicting that the cars would become common within 30 years.
But more recent efforts are a different story. Self-driving cars are now logging thousands of miles on our roads and automakers are looking at time frames of just a few years before they’re available to the public. Semi-autonomous cars that park themselves, keep safe distances between cars ahead and have other similar features are already available.
Dr. Peter Sweatman, an Australian immigrant on the faculty of the University of Michigan, is playing a key role in moving the technology forward. He’s in charge of Mcity, a 32 acre facility in Michigan that’s a simulation of a downtown area and is a testing ground for autonomous vehicles. Mcity provides real-world conditions that are helping carmakers tweak their technologies to better react to conditions of the road.
The US auto industry wants to lead the world in this new technology and people like Dr. Sweatman are making that possible.