• Oct 10, 2010
Sebastian Thrun, the man behind Google Streetview and work on Stanley, the autonomous vehicle from Stanford that's won DARPA competitions, has teamed up with Google to create a fleet of self-piloting vehicles that have racked up over 140,000 unmanned miles. A handful of the vehicles have traveled 1,000 miles without any human intervention at all, and there's been only one crash – when one of the autonomous vehicles was rear-ended by another car.

Of course, it will still be a long time before you're popping down to the corner Ford dealer to pick up a Fiesta AI Edition. Still, to have seven cars plying California streets and highways making their own decisions puts us that much closer to concluding the first generation of data acquisition. One day the threat of car crashes could be virtually eliminated, if only we could get computers that didn't crash.

[Source: Google, New York Times]


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  • 33 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      any idea if this is legal? I dont the car has a driver's license.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I can see this being useful on those long sections of highway when we travel and if it allowed 100 mph is a specific lane, all the better.

      It would also allow for non stop travel. Hit auto pilot and take a nap, wake up and resume control.
      • 4 Years Ago
      A similar, and more promising project, is the following one:

      http://viac.vislab.it
      • 4 Years Ago
      Its good move google did not choose GM or Chrysler cars for this i doubt they would have even lasted half as many miles.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Yes amazing tech. I am not surprised to hear Google pulled this off. I will be happy to drive my myself and allow the masses enjoy the new tech.
      • 4 Years Ago
      This is a very impressive achievement from technical standpoint.
      For driving several hours on an otherwise boring road I think autopilot is great. Same with just getting through commute traffic.

      For those only looking to express distrust and fear of Google, please at least get your facts straight: Google is not filtering anything for the Chinese. The Chinese do the filtering.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Just what's needed. Another stupid thing that takes all the personality and fun out of driving making going from point to point as boring and unexiting as, well, a Toyota.
        Ditohse
        • 4 Years Ago
        Relax, people- the driver's car will never go away. In fact, this can be a great thing for driving enthusiasts. I hope to see autonomous cars used somewhat like a fleet of smart 5-7 passenger buses. People could request a ride through their smartphones and a computer will determine the most efficient route and a nearby car will be sent picking up and dropping off passengers along the way. The service would use more and smaller vehicles, adjusting routes on the fly to ensure no more than a 5 minute wait from when you request a ride.

        This would be cheaper and more convenient for most people- especially those who derive no pleasure from driving and only need a reliable and efficient way to get where they need to go. With this type (the majority) of people sharing rides, congestion will be greatly reduced. That will open up the roads for driving enthusiasts.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I saw one of these vehicles driving through my neighborhood and remember wondering WTF is that?!

      It is kind of scary knowing that there are relatively autonomous cars on the road (but not any more scary then the teenage girl texting on her phone while driving). Still I am not sure where there can be automotive enthusiasts if we don't drive our own cars.

      Regardless I think I am going to stick with my old stickshifts and leave the autonomous driving for those not interested.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I am surprised at all the naysayers.
      I am surprised too at all the people complaining it won't be fun if they are not driving.

      This tech is coming.
      It will start as only operative in an emergency.
      It will then become accepted for use in normal operation for long drives or whenever somebody doesn't want to be bothered.
      But eventually I think it will simply be what is done.

      That is gonna take a while so I don't think anyone here needs to worry about not having their fun.

      To those that think they are driving without computer intervention now - you are not.
      At least not if you are driving something relatively recent.
      What do you think all that traction control and stability control stuff is?

      Probably within a decade or two you will surely see these more involved AI systems actually in cars and taking over in emergency situations.
      I think that is great as I would guess that well over 90% of all accidents are human error in one way or another.
      This technology is going to save a lot of lives.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @nick

        I understand your love of driving nick.
        I rather enjoy it myself.
        However, truth be told - it is not an arcade game for our enjoyment.
        In the end, systems like this will trump humans in so many ways that safety and efficiency will make them the rule of the road.
        But again - it will not be within the lifetime of yourself or your mazda.
        So - not to worry.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I drive an old Mazda 323 with manual everything (save for power-assisted brakes, though there's no ABS). I would gladly drive it for the rest of my life than be forced into riding in an autonomous car. I love driving, actually -driving-, and there's no way I'd ever give that up.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Actually - that is kind of presumptive of me.
        I don't know how hold you are.
        This tech could well be the rule of the road in 40 or 50 years I think.
        Perhaps even less as the pace of technological advancement seems to be ever increasing.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I enjoy driving driving my stick shift, but I can definitely see the benefit of this technology. If you live in a city like Montreal, you know that highways 20,40, and 15 are parking lots between 6:30 - 9:30 AM and 4:30 - 7:00 PM. With most people opting for automatic transmissions these days I would venture to guess that they don't like driving anyway, so why not have the car drive for them? If it is proven to be safer and it alleviates the traffic problem, I see no downside to this. I for one hate spending two hours inching my way home in rush hour traffic. In addition to being a waste of time and gas, it is a detriment to the environment (and so, I usually take public transportation and save my car for longer out-of-city trips).

      This technology definitely has its place IMO. However, I also believe that our governments should be putting a greater emphasis on clean public transportation like bullet trains and expanded metro systems.
      • 4 Years Ago
      As long as they program all the robot cars to stay in the slow lane, I love it.

      At some point, we can then get rid of speed limits for those of us who drive antique cars that require, um, driving.
      • 4 Years Ago
      i can't wait to blow up a johnnycab just like hauser.
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