Google Tests Self-Driving Cars

But mass production is at least 8 years out
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 10, 2010 1:05 PM CDT
Google's fleet consists of six Toyota Priuses and an Audi.   (AP Photo/Itsuo Inouye)
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(Newser) – Google, you can drive my car: In its continued quest for world domination, the search engine behemoth is now dabbling in a little thing it likes to call self-driving cars, reports the New York Times. The fleet of seven has safely logged some 140,000 miles—albeit with "drivers" behind the wheel who can disengage the robo-driver "as easily as one disengages cruise control," says the lead engineer—and sports a cylindrical object on the roof, something like the current Google Street View cars.

The implications could be vast: Self-driving cars, not prone to distraction or drunkenness, would be safer, saving lives and enabling cars to be built lighter and consume less fuel. And automated cars could reduce the need for cars, ratcheting back the demand for parking space. But even in best-case scenarios, the technology looks to be at least eight years out—not that that stops some from looking forward to being even-more-distracted drivers. “Can we text twice as much while driving, without the guilt?” say the engineer. “Yes, we can, if only cars will drive themselves.”

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