Google car: forget the driver

Google shot to fame with its powerful Internet search engine, then added maps, data storage, email and all other sorts of useful online services. Then it turned to mobile phones. Now the tech behemoth is tinkering with cars. More specifically, the folks at Google are trying to eliminate the human behind the wheel.

As sci-fi as it may sound, the State of Nevada has issued the first licence for a driverless, self-driven car: a Toyota Prius modified by Google. Equipped with cameras, radar sensors and laser guidance, the car has covered more than 300,000 kilometres during tests without a single accident, according to Google. Most of the testing was done with a human driver ready to take control in case the car’s self-driving software failed, but the idea is catching on beyond Nevada. California, where the car was initially tested, is also planning to allow Google’s driverless car on the road.

From the BBC:

Bruce Breslow, director of Nevada’s Department of Motor Vehicles, says he believes driverless vehicles are the “cars of the future”.

Nevada changed its laws to allow self-driven cars in March. The long-term plan is to license members of the public to drive such cars.

Google’s car has been issued with a red licence plate to make it recognisable. The plate features an infinity sign next to the number 001.

Other states, including California, are planning similar changes.

“The vast majority of vehicle accidents are due to human error,” said California state Senator Alex Padilla, when he introduced the legislation.

“Through the use of computers, sensors and other systems, an autonomous vehicle is capable of analysing the driving environment more quickly and operating the vehicle more safely.”