Have you ever wished your car could drive itself sometimes? If so, your futuristic dreams may soon become a reality thanks to Volkswagen's recently announced Temporary Auto Pilot system, capable of taking over for motorists at speeds up to 81 miles per hour, and potentially eliminating distracted driving forever.

Created for the European Union research project HAVEit ? short for "Highly Automated Vehicles for Intelligent Transport" ? Volkswagen says Temporary Auto Pilot, or TAP, bundles together today's advanced safety features like adaptive cruise control and VW's Lane Assist system to create one comprehensive self-driving program. But despite all the automation, the driver can step in at any time.

"The driver always retains driving responsibility and is always in control," said Jürgen Leohold, executive director of Volkswagen Group research. "The driver can override or deactivate the system at any time and must continually monitor it."

Capable of automating any driving situation from high-speed freeways to windy roads, TAP can even keep track of local speed limits and passing rules to help prevent you from getting a ticket. But Volkswagen expects most initial use to come from drivers faced with monotonous driving situations like long, empty highways or stop-and-go traffic.

That is, if the system ever rolls out for public use. Volkswagen hasn't announced when, if ever, it plans to debut the system in its cars, nor has it announced potential pricing. That's because self-driving systems pose several challenges for automakers, from liability in case of an accident to the possibility ? however small ? that the technology could fail.

Nonetheless, there's strong interest in the potential for self-driving cars. In October, Google announced it was developing a system to automate driving, and had already used the technology to log more than 140,000 accident-free miles ? albeit with a driver in place just in case. Like Volkswagen, Google cited elimination of distracted, inattentive and drowsy drivers as its reasons for developing the technology.

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Jeffrey Archer is fortunate to have turned a passion for cars into a career. His wide-ranging automotive experience includes work for automakers and dealers in addition to covering the news. When not writing, he spends his time searching for unique cars on AutoTrader.com.

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