Depending on your point of view, autonomous cars are either long overdue or a technology to be avoided at all cost. We see both sides of the argument, but a recent patent secured by tech giant Google may mean the best of both worlds.

U.S. patent number 8,078,349 describes a vehicle that can switch from regular human-operated driving to autonomous mode at the push of a button. Sort of. First, the operator needs to direct the machine to a predefined "landing strip." There, a "reference indicator" (think of something like a QR code affixed to the road) would combine with GPS coordinates to allow the vehicle to know its exact location.

If the stars are aligned and the moon is in the seventh house everything is found to be in working order, Google could send the car directions on where to go and how exactly to get there.

Naturally, there's a ton of technical mumbo jumbo in the patent, and if you're game, you can read all about it here. As pointed out by ConceivablyTech, Google is packing plenty of uber-smart star power behind this technology, so we wouldn't be at all surprised to see cars autonomously taking occupants on short trips within a relatively short period of time. Just so long as we can switch it off when the roads get good...

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      • 3 Years Ago
      In a way it's fitting that Google will solve the problem of inattentive drivers. They are the company who majorly contributed to the advent of the era of instantaneous access to information. People are no longer hyper stimulated by driving a vehicle at freeway speeds and therefore they get bored and distracted.
        • 3 Years Ago
        "People are no longer hyper stimulated by driving a vehicle at freeway speeds and therefore they get bored and distracted." Couldn't have said it better myself.
      • 3 Years Ago
      "First, the operator needs to direct the machine to a predefined "landing strip."" Next thing you know youre in downtown Tehran.
      • 3 Years Ago
      normal people never mind machines using google maps have noticed the error in directional ability and sometimes even mistaking1 way streets for 2 way streets on the direction portion. This is a lot more scary if its autonomous.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I absolutely loathe the idea of not being able to drive my own car some day. At the same time, it would be pretty cool to never need to worry about getting a ride home from the bars...
      Eta Carinae
      • 3 Years Ago
      Google is going to take over the damn world ! There trying to get into cable networking and now our cars ! Damn those litt
      • 3 Years Ago
      • 3 Years Ago
      Markelov`s simulator is designed for anticellulite massage , muscle pain, joint pain, prostatitis. The Markelov`s simulator in accordance with the recommendations of doctors. The product is in demand around the world already.
      Jonathan Arena
      • 3 Years Ago
      I have absolutely no problem with the proliferation of this technology. Simply put, this will give people who don't like to drive the option no to... which means bad drivers will be filed neatly into the left hand lane, and out of the way.
        Basil Exposition
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Jonathan Arena
        "this will give people who don't like to drive the option no to" They already have that option - it's called mass transit. Most are just too self absorbed to use it.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Jesus, so... in the future, any carmaker that makes a car drive itself has to pay google. Gotta love this patent system
      • 3 Years Ago
      It makes sense that Google wants to free up people's attention so they can spend more time online searching stuff. :) Anyway, better Google than another company that would hoard the patent and keep it in a vault.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Automated cars are the next big thing, bigger than the internet, and the progression of models will eventually become the most significant invention ever!! Cars driving themsleves around our cities are the first non-biological species. A machine making decisons, navigating, and becoming smarter, will continue to improve, develope survial insticnts, provide feedback for self-improvement, and evenualy become self-aware. This software will not stop with cars either, everything from planes, trains, and humiond robotics will have versions of this tech imbedded and the world will never be the same.
      J P
      • 3 Years Ago
      Meanwhile, in Redmond Washington - Microsoft Chairman Steve Ballmer is throwing chairs around the office as we speak: "Why the f*** didn't we come up with this idea??? F****** Google!!!!"
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