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One of the often-cited use cases for the Internet of Things is the automotive industry, where there are hopes that automating vehicle and traffic systems will make driving safer and more economical.

Placing Internet-connected sensors in cars, trucks, buses, roads and traffic lights with mobile apps that talk to each other is – depending on how you look at it – a big data delight or an IT nightmare. Of course in the distant future of Hollywood there’s no shortage of the expected perfection (think of Tom Cruise in Minority Report).

Certainly there are no shortage of people in the IT industry going after the potential. Google is perhaps the best known. At this week’s IBM Pulse conference Brian Droesller, vice-president of software and connected solutions at tire maker Continental AG was on stage explaining his company’s efforts on an automated driving system.

By 2016 Continental wants to be able to offer a partially automated system, and by 2020 a fully automated version.

A Continental AG artist's vision of automated driving
A Continental AG artist’s vision of automated driving

The vision is also being discussed at this week’s Mobile World Congress, where, as Matt Hamblen reported, local and national governments will want to have a say in the technology. He interviewed a number of IT execs there on the future.

There are tremendous obstacles to overcome – winter, for one. Still, Nevada, Florida and California have authorized the testing of automated vehicles.

Hmmm. Not much snow in the last two of those jurisdictions. As for driverless cars in Las Vegas? Well, more time to gamble.

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