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Aruba, November 15, 2013 - Are car accidents set to become a thing of the past? Volvo is working to develop a crash-free car by the year 2020, part of a broader push by the world’s automakers – and others – to develop self-driving vehicles.

The company has already developed a braking system that will respond automatically to pedestrians, cyclists and other obstacles in case the driver is distracted. It’s also working on a car that parks itself and cruise control that works in stop-and-go traffic, not just on the highway. The company claims that its cars will contain enough technology to avoid accidents entirely by the end of the decade. So is the auto industry on the cusp of revolutionary change?

It’s not just automakers who think the answer is “yes.” Google is trying its hand at developing a self-driving car too. And since most of the technology found in autonomous vehicles is computer-based, it’s feasible that we could see big software firms teaming up with automakers to jointly create the cars of the future.

But a lot of questions remain unanswered. Nevada, Florida and California have passed laws allowing for the testing of self-driving cars on their roads, but most other jurisdictions still have to figure out how to regulate the new technology.

And while self-driving vehicles are expected to significantly reduce accidents, some critics worry about what would happen if the complex web of software that controls these cars were to fail. Finally, the question remains whether drivers are ready to give up control to a computer and put their feet up on the dashboard.

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