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Robotic cars impress in rough road race

2 min read

Will cars ever be capable of driving themselves? Someday. But the computer software packages designed to control steering, braking, and throttle are in the midst of a trial-and-error learning stage all too reminiscent of a teenager's first experience behind the wheel. Only after some unnerving instruction--and perhaps a dented bumper or two--are they good enough to go solo.

On 9 October, computer algorithms showed that cars might just be ready to take the wheel without human chaperones. That was the day that four autonomous vehicles completed a 211-kilometer racecourse stretching through Nevada's Mojave Desert in less than 10 hours, as required by the rules. The autos avoided boulders and other obstacles, traversed bridges, and maneuvered through hairpin turns on mountain switchbacks as they vied for the US $2 million winner's purse.

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Why Functional Programming Should Be the Future of Software Development

It’s hard to learn, but your code will produce fewer nasty surprises

11 min read
A plate of spaghetti made from code
Shira Inbar

You’d expectthe longest and most costly phase in the lifecycle of a software product to be the initial development of the system, when all those great features are first imagined and then created. In fact, the hardest part comes later, during the maintenance phase. That’s when programmers pay the price for the shortcuts they took during development.

So why did they take shortcuts? Maybe they didn’t realize that they were cutting any corners. Only when their code was deployed and exercised by a lot of users did its hidden flaws come to light. And maybe the developers were rushed. Time-to-market pressures would almost guarantee that their software will contain more bugs than it would otherwise.

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