PRESIDENT OBAMA HASN’T spent much time behind the wheel lately, and he expects more Americans to enjoy the same privilege before long. As autonomous vehicles make their way into society, he says, the federal government must ensure everyone shares in the benefits of this emerging technology. “The technology is essentially here,” Obama, the guest editor of WIRED’s November issue, says in a lengthy interview with Editor-in-Chief Scott Dadich and Joi Ito, director of MIT’s Media Lab. Ford promises a fleet of autonomous vehicles by 2021. GM and BMW are chasing a similar date. Lyft says the majority of its rides will be in self-driving cars in five years. Uber launched the country’s first autonomous taxi service in Pittsburgh last month. And Google’s robo-cars have racked up 2 million miles of driving on public roads. Autonomous vehicles promise enormous benefits. Car crashes kill more than 30,000 Americans and 1.25 million people globally each year. Some 94 percent of those collisions stem from human error. Self-driving cars won’t get drunk, angry, or tired. They aren’t distracted by phones. They won’t endlessly circle the block looking for parking.
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