The other night when he appeared on stage at the 92nd St.Y, along with Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher of the Wall Street Journal’s AllThingsDigital, Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman of Google, hinted that his company’s self-driving cars will be on the road earlier than originally thought. It appears that a number of government officials in California, Nevada, Florida, Hawaii, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and the District of Columbia, all want to lead the way to make these cars legal. Some states already have legal rights to test them. Schmidt said Google “is very interested in leading the way most people will get around.”
This is a real mindblower.
Google began testing the self-driving cars in 2009 along side engineer Sebastian Thrun, who had previously worked on the technology with the Stanford University faculty. Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin are cheerleading Thrun to perfect the technology. Yes, the cars drive themselves with the aid of lasers, cameras, and other gear. Schmidt revealed that Google’s autonomous cars have already racked up more than 100,000 miles on the road.
It is very possible that five years from now, when many of us will need them most, we will be able to take advantage of this wondrous invention. Just imagine the implications. We will be more independent than ever before, going where we want to go, when we want to go there. Schmidt said that autonomous vehicles are safer than human drivers. “This technology could prevent accidents, help disabled people get around, and reduce traffic congestion and gas consumption.”
General Motors and Toyota are working closely with Google to hasten the development of the technology.
Swisher added that she took a test run and it was a totally weird sensation. “I found myself breaking to stop and wanting to put my hands on the steering wheel. It is going to take some to get used to this.” Schmidt summed up this advancement in technology saying that “humans driving cars was a big mistake. This is the way it was meant to be.”
Swisher must feel Google is getting closer to introducing the self-driving cars to the marketplace because soon after the 92nd St.Y discussion, the Wall Street Journal released an update on it. My comment is, “This may be a good time to get older.”