In the midst of a longer piece on the top-secret Google X lab, The New York Times drops this bomb: "Google may turn one of the ideas – the driverless cars that it unleashed on California's roads last year – into a new business."

It was just over a year ago when the world first heard of Google's experiments, deploying Toyota Prius hatchbacks in California to rack up test miles of its self-driving vehicle system. Google launched the program in secret, but has since given presentations on the technology and the company's goals for its deployment. Currently, the cars must have a human behind the wheel to act as a potential override to the system, but Google has indicated that it would like the system to get to the point that it operates free of human intervention. Google is currently working towards racking up over a million driverless miles.

While the Times report says that Google is considering building these autonomous cars in the U.S., we've got to believe that this is nothing more than conjecture. Even for a company as large and well-funded as Google, deciding to go into the carmaking business is not something you just jump into, especially not when your sales strategy involves a bleeding edge technology and you haven't shown any desire or aptitude for designing or building nearly any other aspect of an automobile. Autonomous driving tech could be a truly transformative feature, but developing it and selling it to the industry as a supplier would seem to make much more sense, and it would doubtlessly hasten its arrival to the market.

Check out the TED Talks video after the jump to get up to speed on Google's efforts.


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  • 42 Comments
      carfan
      • 3 Years Ago
      "Google to build driverless cars in the U.S.?"...I sure hope so, the american drivers are the worst in the world, especially those idiots you can't stop a POS toyota from running away. The sooner the Americans get a self driving vehicle the better. Actually they already have the toyota which doesn't need drivers, they drive themselves with the morons sitting in them.
      tributetodrive
      • 3 Years Ago
      It will be a smashing success!
      brian
      • 3 Years Ago
      If this means no more suicidal taxi drivers yammering on the phone while listening to Techo-Sufi - I'm all for it.
      Timothy Tibbetts
      • 3 Years Ago
      Those of you who love this idea must be lost. This is Autoblog, an auto enthusiast site. We like to DRIVE our cars.
        sleeping143
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Timothy Tibbetts
        I like to drive cars and motorcycles (and work on and build them, for what it's worth), but I can still admit that there's a certain appeal to being able to press a few buttons and read the news/catch up with friends during the morning commute. The alternative being to stare at traffic ahead of me to make sure I don't hit it. (That said, there is a certain element of sport to commuting on a bike, but it's quite boring in a car.)
      Oceanblue78
      • 3 Years Ago
      That is the lamest, laziest, more ignorant technology yet. Why don't we just invent a machine to feed us and bathe us and everything else. Laziness I tell you. You will NEVER catch me in a totally machine controlled vehicle.
        Brendon
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Oceanblue78
        lol how is this lazy? you are using a vehicle to get you from point a to point b faster then walking, that is what I call lazy. This will just improve the safety and decrease time in order to arrive
        Charles2337
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Oceanblue78
        Yet you use your computer to buy things online rather than getting your lazy ass out of your room and actually go to the store. You use your plumbing system to get you water rather than getting your lazy ass outa bed to haul water from the lake. You use your washing machine to wash your clothes rather than moving your lazy ass to the nearby river to beat them against a rock. You can't stop technology, it is here to make our lives easier and safer. So go ahead, no one will care if you choose not to use it. Enjoy your unnecessary hardship.
        Tiberius1701
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Oceanblue78
        Agreed..if you want to live in the Peoples Hispanic Republic of California-or certain socialist envlaves in the NE...have at it. Otherwise you can have my ICE powered Human guided automobile when your pry the keys....
        Alex740
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Oceanblue78
        You clearly don't commute by car especially here in California. I'd much rather have the majority of the drivers on the road relieved from driving duty so they can focus on their texting, talking, eating, kids, etc. For the rest of us who love to drive there will always be roads to do it on and they will be far less congested with computers driving those who don't care to do it.
          minimalist driver
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Alex740
          Good points..... but you know how automakers are...... they're going to hammer this thing into the ground until non-automated cars are a thing of the past or toys for the ultra-rich.
          Oceanblue78
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Alex740
          No I commute in the Houston area..it aint no picnic but I wanna drive. I like being in control and I certainly do not buy cars to get from point a to b. Those people are called "Camry owners".
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      JR
      • 3 Years Ago
      Count me out.
      lemonite
      • 3 Years Ago
      It's a step in the right direction, but unless they have new things up their sleeve, I don't see how they are going to do this - they have to drive and annotate the roads before letting the cars drive
        Brendon
        • 3 Years Ago
        @lemonite
        The larger concern is who is liable if the car does get in an accident
      minimalist driver
      • 3 Years Ago
      I've deleted my Twitter account, so I'm using my Google account to sign in. I'm Justin Campanale btw. Anyway, I have mixed feelings about this on the whole. Driving automated cars would keep me safe from all the idiots out there who can't drive, while I drive in peace. Most people would rather browse the Internet, watch TV, tweet, etc etc while their kids sit in the back playing AO rated games. To make a long story short, the majority of Americans would not pass a driving test in Europe. On the other hand, everyone knows how automakers are. They're going to hammer this "automated car" feature into the ground until real cars are a thing of the past, or toys for the top 1%. Just look at what happened with manuals. And I'm sure that the majority of people would scoff at those people who choose to drive themselves, calling them "cavemen" and telling them that they are "behind the times". As a result, car enthusiasts give up their interests in order to fit in, which leaves even less demand for real cars, which means that manufacturers cut down on real cars even more, so even fewer people drive real cars, and they look down even more on those who do, and so on and so forth. It's all a death spiral.
      Harry
      • 3 Years Ago
      NO THANKS. I LOVE Driving!!!!!
      TMTexas
      • 3 Years Ago
      Given the current privacy concerns of Google's use of personal data, I'd love to see how they sell all the data collected about you while they ferry your lazy butt around town. No thanks. I'd never drive an autonomous car and certainly wouldn't even ride in one if it was as pictured - a Prius.
        Charles2337
        • 3 Years Ago
        @TMTexas
        Go ahead, no one will care =) The rest of the world will embrace this technology.
      Bryan Lund
      • 3 Years Ago
      Lame, I enjoy my '08 Mitsubishi Lancer GTS too much (driving it normally) to embrace a new world order non-driving idea like this, at all. Especially with a lame-boy Prius!
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