Will cars ever really drive themselves? General Motors clearly thinks there is something in the idea; it has struck a $5m (£2.7m) deal with a specialist in autonomous vehicles.The five-year contract is with Carnegie Mellon University, the same team that won last year’s DARPA Urban Challenge, a competition for driverless vehicles held around a dummy suburban environment in California.GM’s R&D chief Alan Tuab said, “GM and Carnegie Mellon University have a lengthy and successful history of working together on autonomous and robotic technologies. We have a shared vision of developing technologies that have the potential to resolve transportation challenges. Continuing this successful working relationship is a natural next step toward achieving our mutual goals.”The two organisations have, in fact, been working together since 2000; the new contract is merely an extension of that deal. But they’re being pretty bold on the achievability of their goals; Carnegie Mellon professor Raj Rajikumar said, “Research in this new lab will focus on creating and maturing the underlying technologies required to build the autonomous vehicle of the future.”It looks like the days of HAL driving you home after a heavy night on the sauce might not be too far off after all, then.