Google Testing Self-Driving Cars

Posted on October 10, 2010

Google has developed technology for cars that can drive themselves. Google says the goal of the self-driving cars is to "help prevent traffic accidents, free up people's time and reduce carbon emissions." Google's self-driving cars have logged over 140,000 miles. Google says the cars are never unmanned.
Safety has been our first priority in this project. Our cars are never unmanned. We always have a trained safety driver behind the wheel who can take over as easily as one disengages cruise control. And we also have a trained software operator in the passenger seat to monitor the software. Any test begins by sending out a driver in a conventionally driven car to map the route and road conditions. By mapping features like lane markers and traffic signs, the software in the car becomes familiar with the environment and its characteristics in advance. And we�ve briefed local police on our work.
Google says self-driving cars could cut the number of traffic accidents in half.
According to the World Health Organization, more than 1.2 million lives are lost every year in road traffic accidents. We believe our technology has the potential to cut that number, perhaps by as much as half. We�re also confident that self-driving cars will transform car sharing, significantly reducing car usage, as well as help create the new �highway trains of tomorrow." These highway trains should cut energy consumption while also increasing the number of people that can be transported on our major roads. In terms of time efficiency, the U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that people spend on average 52 minutes each working day commuting. Imagine being able to spend that time more productively.
Google did not provide a photo of its self-driving vehicles, but you can see one this video by blogger Robert Scoble. Take a look: