Apparently not content to field a fleet of four-wheeled autonomous cars, reports are floating in that the Internet giant has petitioned the State of California to allow the testing of autonomous motorcycles, as well. The team at Google, apparently led by engineer Anthony Levandowski, has designed and built a riderless motorcycle cleverly called Ghostrider that is capable of traveling to a predetermined destination without a rider.
According to Visordown, Ron Medford, the director of safety for Google's self-driving car program, wrote a letter to the appropriate officials in California, suggesting that the tech company wants to test alternative forms of autonomous transportation. "It is certainly possible that future testing could include motorcycles or larger commercial vehicles," he said. "If some innovator can demonstrate that testing autonomous technology on such vehicles is safe, then they should be allowed to test."
Not everyone agrees with that sentiment, however. Earlier in the year, Levandowski's personal home was targeted by a group of activists calling themselves the Counterforce. A non-violent protest was staged at his private Berkeley residence due to his work for Google's autonomous driving and mapping programs.
We're not quite ready to anoint Google as the real-life Cyberdyne Systems or its self-driving technology the real-world Skynet, but we are watching its autonomous programs – be they two-, four- or 18-wheeled – with interest. Moto-Terminator, anyone? Just kidding... mostly.
UPDATE: For more on the specifics of what Google is trying to do – namely, get the legislation changed so that it doesn't preclude any specific vehicle types, not necessarily building its own two-wheeled drones – check out this article from Jalopnik.