Look Ma’, No Hands!

by Matthew Glans on October 11, 2010

Speeding tickets and red light cameras may soon be a thing of the past. A new project from Google could change the very face of transportation, a car that drives itself. According to Reuters, Google is now testing an automated vehicle that would taking driving out of the hands of passenger, hopefully making driving safer and more efficient.

“‘Our goal is to help prevent traffic accidents, free up people’s time and reduce carbon emissions by fundamentally changing car use,’ Google said on its blog.

The automated cars use video cameras, radar sensors and a laser range finder to “see” other traffic, as well as detailed maps to navigate the road ahead.

The futuristic autos have already been tested on the heavily trafficked California roadways — including highways, bridges and busy city streets. They have even navigated San Franciso’s famed Lombard Street, a tourist favorite known as the nation’s most dramatically winding address.

All in all, our self-driving cars have logged over 140,000 miles, Google said.

All of the test runs have had a driver behind the wheel just in case. The driver can take over as easily as one disengages cruise control, Google said, adding that test drives have also included a trained software operator in the passenger seat to monitor the software.

Google said it believes its self-driving cars might one day cut by half the more than 1 million traffic fatalities suffered each year.”

Fully automated cars could have a significant effect on auto insurance, how would insurance work in a world where cars are driven by computer? While several questions exist over how the technology would change society, including much control would be given to control the computerized roadways, the benefits of a driver less transportation system cannot be ignored.

The end of speed traps and cell phone drivers alone would be worth it.

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