Your Next Car Might Drive Itself: New Season of KQED’s QUEST Science Series Hits the Road
Self-Driving Cars: The Road Ahead Premieres October 28, 7:30pm KQED 9
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QUEST, KQED’s award-winning multimedia science series, launches its new season with a half-hour TV special, Self-Driving Cars: The Road Ahead on Wednesday, October 28, at 7:30pm on KQED 9. Automobiles are about to undergo their biggest revolution in more than 100 years. Once the stuff of science fiction, cars that drive themselves are already hitting the streets with amazing advances in technology, much of it coming out of Silicon Valley.
“There’s a shock you get when seeing the wheel turn on its own while the car is zooming down the highway at 60 miles per hour,” says Sheraz Sadiq, the documentary’s producer.
Already, ten companies, from Google to Mercedes-Benz, have permits to test self-driving cars on California roads. Sadiq experienced Audi’s prototype self-driving car firsthand, on the highway near the company’s offices in Belmont, south of San Francisco. In January, the vehicle drove 550 miles from the Bay Area to Las Vegas, almost entirely without human control.
The changes that self-driving cars may bring are dramatic: fewer traffic deaths, easier commutes, perhaps even the wholesale redesign of freeways and suburbs. Still, big hurdles remain, including handling diverse weather conditions, and safety rules and legal liability, especially when accidents arise. QUEST investigates how self-driving cars are sparking new opportunities — and challenges — on and off the road.
QUEST’s new television season, airing on Wednesdays at 7:30 pm, also includes the following four episodes:
- Wind Energy vs. Eagles (November 4) – Tag along with biologists studying golden eagle behavior in the Altamont Pass and trying to keep wind turbines out of the birds’ way. Also, find out about a doctor’s quest to create better treatments for sports concussions and efforts to rid San Francisco Bay of poisonous mercury.
- Life of a Raindrop (November 11) – Meet researchers tracking the secret life of raindrops to help preserve our clean water supplies. Also, discover an atom’s tiniest constituents and the colorful menagerie found in the depths of a California tide pool.
- Giant Sequoias Face Drought (November 18) – Climb with researchers to the top of giant sequoias to study these iconic trees as they struggle with drought. Also, go inside the Hayward Fault, overdue for a huge quake, and explore how our taste buds connect what we eat to our memories and emotions.
- Dive with Elephant Seals (November 25) – Discover how biologists are using high-tech tags to learn where elephant seals go to feed while spending months at sea. Also, map the history of the universe with a Nobel Prize-winning physicist in Berkeley, and see how engineers are retrofitting the largest water supply for the Bay Area.
All of QUEST’s episodes and individual video segments can also be viewed online at kqed.org/quest.
Launched in 2007, QUEST is KQED’s award-winning, multimedia series covering science, environment and nature stories from the Bay Area and beyond. In addition to its new television episodes, QUEST produces science education videos, e-books and resources. Support for QUEST is provided by the National Science Foundation. Additional support is provided by S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, HopeLab, David B. Gold Foundation, The Dirk and Charlene Kabcenell Foundation, The Vadasz Family Foundation, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Smart Family Foundation and the members of KQED. QUEST is a project of KQED Science, the largest science and environment reporting unit in California.
KQED serves the people of Northern California with a public-supported alternative to commercial media. Home to the most listened-to public radio station in the nation, one of the highest-rated public television services and an award-winning education program, and as a leader and innovator in interactive technology, KQED takes people of all ages on journeys of exploration — exposing them to new people, places and ideas.