Leave it to Google to be the ones introducing robot cars to the world.
If you were perusing the internet this weekend, you probably heard about this: Google has started research on cars that can drive themselves. In fact, if you’re from the San Francisco or Los Angeles areas, you may have seen one of their robot-guided Toyota Prius prototypes moseying down Highway 1. (You’d recognize them by the futuristic roof-attached loudspeaker that screams, “This is the future, mofos!”)
The car is run by artificial-intelligence software that can both detect things near the car and mimic the decisions of a human driver. If something unexpected does happen, the technician in the passenger seat can immediately take over. The seven test cars on the road have driven a thousand miles without human aid, and more than 140,000 miles with the human driver interfering only occasionally. The only reported accident was when one of the cars got rear-ended while at a red light. Irony?
While current law still requires a human driver behind the wheel—and while the prototypes are years away from becoming commercially feasible—engineers argue that robotic cars are (or should be) the way of the future. After all, robots have 360-degree vision, and they don’t get sleepy, drunk, or distracted when “Since U Been Gone” comes up on shuffle.
Either way, it’s (thankfully) a big step forward from these robotic cars.