German scientists are developing a self-driving car, working toward a vision of the future in which no one drives—or even owns—their vehicle. The Spirit of Berlin, the prototype of Raul Rojas' team, can already accelerate, turn, and brake on its own. Sensors in front of the vehicle can tell if an object or person is in the way—and tell the car to stop. When fully operational, the scientists feel the Spirit of Berlin will do more for the environment than any alternative engine technology.
That's because Rojas and his team see individual car ownership as the biggest threat to the environment. In their vision of a driver-less future, cars can be entered and used by anyone—with computers doing all the driving and far fewer cars on the road. "Look at how many cars today just sit around parked," Rojas told Der Spiegel. "Once there is a dense transportation network of trains and driver-less taxis, no one will miss their own car." He figures, however, it will be 100 years before the vision becomes reality.