For all who think that Google’s is resting on its Streetview laurels, now comes news that the company has secretly launched driverless cars that are logging thousands of miles with little or no human input. Of course it has a GPS navigation system. But it also has sensors and cameras that collect information on the “lay of the land” around it. The car can be programmed for various personalities, such a cautious driver who lets another car merge in front or an aggressive driver who just speeds up. No word on whether the car can get a ticket for drinking and driving if it uses an alcohol based fuel. But so far the cars have driven across the Golden Gate Bridge, down the Crookedest Street and from one Google building to the other without incident. Well, there was an incident when a human driven car rear-ended the robot driven vehicle.
Okay, so the cars aren’t exactly human-free, roaming the highways on their own. It’s not like you’ll see an empty car driving by on the freeway on Halloween night. For now the cars drive about with a human engineer prepared to intervene when all systems are not go – ing well. The human can override the robot when there is an accident waiting to happen. One such case occurred when a bicyclist ran a red light and the car “saw” a green light. Ultimately, developers of the driverless car aren’t so much focused on the driverless aspect as in the car’s ability to augment the human driver. With warning voices, lights and other sounds, the car can inform the driver of its surroundings and help with navigation. This could mean that the future will be kinder to those who text, compute or indulge in other activities while driving.
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