The director of Stanford's Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Sebastian Thrun, sees a future without car accidents. Not literally, of course, though Thrun is definitely a visionary. He's also an engineer at Google, and there, he is part of an elite team.
Their mission is simple - create a scalable, marketing, self-driving car.
In fact, they already have seven on the street. In total, these cars have compiled more than 1,000 miles of unassisted driving and more than 140,000 with minimal human guidance.
Outfitted with highly-advanced sensors that detect changes in traffic and sudden events, along with an internal system which determines car position in regards to location, the cars are a formidable alternative to human drivers. They are also free from distractions like road weariness, intoxication, mobile devices and other things that get in the way of safe driving.
The hope is that someday more efficient - and safer - vehicles will populate the roads. Are self-driving cars the answer to car accidents? Drivers in San Diego, and other similarly busy cities may certainly hope so.
Of course, that future is still a ways out, even though Google engineers currently have working prototypes on the road right now. How far out remains to be seen.
- Google Cars Drive Themselves, in Traffic (The New York Times)