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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Original GPS design team member shares a similar vision with Waze

Bradford Parkinson, former US Air Force Colonel, professor emeritus at Stanford University, and integral member of the team that invented GPS technology shared his vision of the future of GPS with CNN in a recent interview. 

In the interview, he indicates that self-driving cars with GPS will be one of the next major steps forward for the technology - using, among other things, cooperation between cars.

This is similar to the 'crowd sourcing' of highway, traffic, and road condition information that Waze is using to help drivers navigate from location to location.  It's no wonder that Google is snapping up the company for an estimated $1.3B, since they are already highly invested in the self-driving vehicle technology market.  Automated sharing of this kind of crowd sourced information from other drivers or automated vehicles should only further advance the technology - and the Google patent base.  The self driving automobile market already has a high barrier to entry - Google is making sure it stays that way for the foreseeable future.  

In September 2012, California legalized self driving vehicles, and are expected to have the first draft of regulations and legislation for self driving vehicles in 2015; with the first self driving vehicles expected to hit the highways in 2016.

While experts have indicated that the current self driving systems are somewhat impractical - since they involve system technology costing nearly $70,000, the CNN article reminds us that the first 'portable' GPS system was the 'Manpack', which weighed 40 pounds and cost over $400,000 - while today's GPS devices can be "smaller than a fingernail and cost $1.50".