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Will self-driving cars be ready for the road this summer?

This week's Question: Last week, Elon Musk, chief executive of Tesla, said that the electric car maker would introduce autonomous technology, an autopilot mode, by this summer; the technology will allow drivers to have their vehicles take control on major roads and highways. The CEO also announced that a software update for the Model S will be rolled out in 90 days and give Tesla owners new safety features, including automatic emergency braking and blind-spot and side-collision warnings. Some industry experts, however, are skeptical that such autonomous driving is legal and meets current regulations. Although some states have passed laws legalizing autonomous vehicles, those laws address the testing of driverless cars, not their use by consumers. What do you think?

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Will 2015 be the year that virtual reality goes mainstream?

This week's Question: New virtual reality technologies were revealed at this month's Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, including the HTC Vive from game developer Valve Corporation and smartphone maker HTC. Vive uses lasers, sensors, and controllers to track motion in 3D space. The 1200 x 1800 pixel duo screen headset enables users to experience a virtual world while also reacting to it physically. According to the companies, the screens also "eliminate the jitter common with previous VR technologies." Other VR competitors exist, including Facebook's Oculus Rift Crescent Bay and Sony’s Morpheus 2015 prototype. The consumer version of Vive will be released at the end of 2015. What do you think? Will 2015 be the year that virtual reality goes mainstream?

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Will 'Bloon' rides catch on?

This week's Question: Zero2infinity, a Spanish company, plans to launch passengers to near space using technologies called "Bloons." A maximum of four passengers will join two pilots in the Bloon cabin, which will be chained to a balloon filled with inert helium. Once fully inflated, the balloon will pull the cabin to an altitude of about 22 miles or 116,000 ft; the balloons would take between 1.5-2 hours to reach maximum altitude. The passengers would not reach space itself, but would still be able to see the Earth, as well as the sun rise. Whether passengers would still need to wear spacesuits will depend on certification from authorities. Bloon's first departures are expected to be followed by the launch of space flights from World View Enterprises, an Arizona-based ballooning company. What do you think? Will 'Bloon' rides catch on?

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Are FAA drone rules too restrictive?

This week's Question: This month, the Federal Aviation Administration proposed long-awaited rules on the commercial use of small drones, requiring operators to be certified, fly only during daylight, and keep their aircraft in sight. The ruling, for now, prevents drones from being used for a range of possible other commercial uses, including crop inspection and package delivery. What do you think? Are FAA drone rules too restrictive?

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Would you take a one-way trip to Mars?

This week's Question: Mars One, a group that plans to send humans on a one-way trip to Mars, has narrowed its application pool from 200,000 to 100. The finalists will spend the next decade in training, including team-building exercises and isolation. The goal of the Netherlands-based non-profit is to start a permanent colony on Mars. If the mission is launched, the colonists will never return to Earth. One mission is scheduled to launch in 2025, followed by another every two years. What do you think? Would you take a one-way trip to Mars?

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Will selfies replace the password?

This week's Question: New apps, including one created by West Virginia University students in 2014, uses advanced facial recognition and liveness detection capabilities to authenticate smartphone users. A free technology from Hoyos Labs, showcased at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, similarly enables a person to log in to a device without a user name, password, or other personally identifiable data. What do you think? Will selfies replace the password?

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Will autonomous car trends lead to lost jobs?

This week’s Question: As an increasing number of automakers develop autonomous or semi-autonomous cars, some critics are concerned that the number of vehicles on the road will be reduced and jobs will be lost, especially those in motor vehicle parts manufacturing and professional driving sectors. What do you think? Will autonomous car trends lead to lost jobs?

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