Google Creates Cars That Drive Without People in Them

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The company that was once a mere search engine with a cute catchphrase ("Don't Be Evil") has now created a car that successfully drives without human beings in it. Right. "Google has been working in secret on vehicles that can drive themselves, using artificial-intelligence software that can sense anything near the car and mimic the decisions made by a human driver," the Times reports. They really work: "Seven test cars have driven 1,000 miles without human intervention. One even drove itself down Lombard Street in San Francisco, one of the steepest and curviest streets in the nation." They're even safe, because "robot drivers react faster than humans, have 360-degree perception and do not get distracted, sleepy or intoxicated" like terrible, teenage human drivers, Google says. The cars are still years from mass production, of course, but "technologists" believe that robot cars "can transform society as profoundly as the Internet has."

So who is this bad news for? Truckers. Classic American truckers, who take pleasure only in the unique melancholy of pressing the gas pedal for hours on end, and stopping at occasional motels and fast-food joints. But who wins, when robot cars hit the market? Compulsive texters, for one.


Of course, the cars could save humans from themselves. “Can we text twice as much while driving, without the guilt?” Dr. Thrun [a Google engineer] said in a recent talk. “Yes, we can, if only cars will drive themselves.”

America, the future is here. And it's text-heavy.

Google Cars Drive Themselves, in Traffic [NYT]