08/05/2012

The Google Car

The Google CarGoogle has been granted the first licence in the US to test self-driving cars on public streets.

I've always been worried about the idea of Google satnavs. You'd tell it your address and it would say, "Did you mean..." and drive you to where it thinks you wanted to go.

And a Google car will work in the US, but if you want it to drive in Amsterdam you'll have to set the safe search off of 'moderate'.

The Department of Motor Vehicles gave the scheme the go-ahead after conducting demonstrations on the Las Vegas Strip.

That's a scary concept. That a vehicle could be driven by something with no emotion, no personality... It'll be like buses in the UK.

The Google car has laser-radar mounted on the roof and in the radiator grill that detects pedestrians, cyclists and other vehicles, creating a virtual buffer zone around the obstacles that the car then avoids. And if it's really like Google it'll drive you to about 15 shops they it thinks you might like to buy stuff from before it gets you on your journey. Well, that's what they did with YouTube.

It's not a perfect system, apparently. Nevada DMV Director Bruce Breslow said of the Google car, "It gets honked at more often because it's being safe."

The film Minority Report had the self-driving cars doing hundreds of miles and hour, but it seems that when automobiles go automated they'll be like slow Sunday drivers. Still, on the plus side, if a computer car crashes you don't need to call the police, ambulance and insurance people. Just turn it off and back on again. That's what we do when computers crash normally.

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