• Oct 14, 2010
ABC News goes for a spin with one of Google's driverless cars – Click above to watch video after the jump

Google's autonomous fleet has been clandestinely racking up the computer-driven miles, and so far, their autonomous autos have been fault-free. One minor incident happened when a car was rear-ended, but the Skynet Google cars have yet to incur any points on their virtual licenses. Earlier this week, ABC News got the chance to go for a spin in one of the tech company's automated cars, riding shotgun in a computer-controlled Toyota Prius.

The engineers from Google explain that the Prius utilizes a series of cameras and a roof-mounted, spinning laser to see what is going on around it. The result is a vehicle which might just be safer than one with a human behind the wheel. However, according to the report, the goal of the system is not to completely remove the driver from the equation, the system is pitched as more of a "super cruise-control" than a full auto-drive system. The theory is that it would be useful for traffic-filled commutes to and from work, and it might be a nice solution to eliminate or reduce distracted-driving. Get a phone call? Hit the Google button and let the car have the wheel while you take your call.

Becky Worley, the news correspondent in the video clip, even gets up the guts to give the Google car a real-life brake test. She steps in front of it as it's motoring down the road. What happens? The car "sees" her and slams on the binders. Check it all out in the video after the jump.

[Source: ABC News]



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 45 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      If an accident is inevitable (i.e. a child suddenly cross the street very close in front of the car) you need advanced Artificial Intelligence to calculate the risks in order to break the normal driving rules and avoid the accident or minimize the impact (for example to change the driving path to an empty pedestrian sidewalk away from the child). I wonder what Google does about it.
      • 4 Years Ago
      In a way this can have some very practical uses in the real world. But I feel this the evolution in taking away driving from humans completely, and thats pretty sad. I doubt it will happen in my lifetime, but eventually control of cars will be taken away.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Is this fake no?
      • 4 Years Ago
      A lot of people are failing to see how good this is. To quote the great all-wise all-knowing Jeremy Clarkson:

      "If you buy a rubbish car, what you are saying is 'I have no interest in cars', if you have no interest in cars, you have no interest in driving, and if you have no interest in something it means you are no good at it, which means you must have your driving license taken away."

      People who don't like cars and hate driving are usually the really bad drivers. We all know the kind. People in Camry's riding the left lane at 60 mph in a 65 zone. Self driving cars would keep these people at the speed limit in the right lane. Instead of telling these people to just stay home (as much as we'd all like to do that) it would be so much easier just to throw them all in self driving cars that are programmed to not be completely stupid on the road. It will help women parallel park without hitting your headlights. Teenagers and college retards can now drink booze or text or whatever asinine things they occupy their time with now.

      I applaud you Google. Making the world better for the rest of us.
      CODY
      • 4 Years Ago
      Cars will have to go as will any dwelling that isn't clustered. The templates for the future usually borrow from the past, in these two cases - trains, trolleys and villages or cities made of cluster housing - with proscribed parameters. Cars....? No. No more blood for oil. Your own picket fence.....? With six billion people in the world, get over Victoriana - each to his own - that devolved into the Los Angelization of the globe.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Google's doing a lot better with this than some of the major manufactures at even some basic safety response bits.

      I'm really excited to see the evolution of this. I'd never want to give up driving, but having the option is a good thing for a large portion of the population.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @montoym

        Yeah but auto manufacturers have been at this for years and none have made a system this good. A lot has to do with Google hiring some of the brightest programmers/engineers around the world. We've had the technology to do this for years, Google had the army of programmers to make application of it all work...
        bancban
        • 4 Years Ago
        Becky Worley, the news correspondent in the video clip, even gets up the guts to give the Google car a real-life brake test. She steps in front of it as it's motoring down the road. What happens? The car "sees" her and slams on the binders. Check it all out in the video after the jump.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @ jrm125:

        Well, when you aren't constrained by cost, you can do amazing things.

        Difference is, the production versions of these systems have some compromises due to cost, size, weight, etc which the autonomous Prius doesn't appear to have to deal with.

        I agree though that the evolution of this will be interesting, but take take away too much form these prototypes just yet. At least not when it comes to comparing them to current production vehicles that is.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @verdegrrl

        'Impaired Driver'
        • 4 Years Ago
        @montoym

        you're partly wrong.
        google employee have 20% off their time for themself and can develop ideas.
        they are brillant people from all over the world.

        most of those actual freetime development products are THE killers app google is known for.

        google has a good policy, your co workers decide about your wage(somewhat), so if you fit in the crew, you get awarded over your performance and over the opinion of your fellow workers.

        google spends around 3000€ / year on food for every employee, i saw their kitchen and restaurant in a doc, you can see on google video (it was made by a dutch reporter, not a google employee).

        they have swimming pools, fitnis areas, volley ball, basket ball and i don't know what else, but more of everything your would see in another company.
        there is litterally everything avaiable, mars, snikkers, red bull, m&m, first class food by real Chef du cuisine making all sorts of meals and much more.

        microsoft is a bigger (on paper) company, but somehow their policy sucks and apparantly no bright ideas appear they only know how to open hands for collecting money.
        since a few years they haven't invented anything and been a patent trol for quite some time.

        microsoft is a very closed company and the developer forums are filled with asian employes.
        most of the time it intents to "improve" a very good product, i.e. iPod vs Zune.

        those people @ google are Artists, software artist.

        a good thing is that google aint a offensive company, because it can do real damage to a country without using guns and it's capable cuasing a world wide economic collapse.

        google somehow mannages to do amazing thing with limited recources.
        if you checkout that other GM SUV ("Boss") that is packed with sensors and doesn't seam to drive confortable (sudden brakes).

      • 4 Years Ago
      "The theory is that it would be useful for traffic-filled commutes to and from work, and it might be a nice solution to eliminate or reduce distracted-driving. Get a phone call? Hit the Google button and let the car have the wheel while you take your call."

      It's called the bus.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Yea, Erik, let me go ahead and wait for the bus for both ways, and turn my 10 minute trip into a 40 minute trip.

        /sarcasm
      • 4 Years Ago
      I'd feel more comfortable on the road if 95% of the population was forced to use this. The few that do have driving skills can have the option.
      • 4 Years Ago
      It's simply a robotic taxi driver, I could use a free taxi from time to time. I love driving but from time to time I wish I had left my car home.

      They call it cruise control because public is just not ready yet for autonomous vehicles. So they will install it into cars as cruise control so people can get comfortable with it. All hell will break loose when a robotic driver scores first kill or at least someone will sue Google but eventually people will embrace the technology just as they did with electricity (it kills too).

      Disclaimer; I work on unmanned (off-road) vehicles.
      • 4 Years Ago
      This is one way to fix the problem with Toyota owners being so dumb they can't stop their cars.
        • 4 Years Ago
        If they're dumb enough to buy an over-rated, under-performing and worthless Toyota - they can't possibly be smart enough to drive it themselves!

        =D
      • 4 Years Ago
      I've actually seen this prius driving on highway 50 in sacramento before never knew what it was or the laser on top. It is actually really cool.
      • 4 Years Ago
      This is stupid.
      The point of a car is to drive it.
      I can't stand Eric Schmidt.
      D@mn creepy hippie...
      If you get to the point where you are so lazy or so distracted from driving then you should just stop driving altogether and take the bus or train and free up the road for us real drivers.
        • 4 Years Ago
        To be fair, cars are different things to different people. For the majority of the populace it's a conveyance from point A to point B, and point C on the weekends.

        This is evidenced by the plethora of appliance-like vehicles that flood the market today.

        I think it's actually a safe assumption that more people than not would prefer to not actually have to drive the vehicle. Probably not true on Autoblog, but in general, I'd go with that.
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