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Google Car Drives Itself


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"[W]e have developed technology for cars that can drive themselves." Hang on, what? It's never a good sign when life imitates an early Stephen King novel... Those are the words of Sebastian Thrun, Google's Distinguished Software Engineer, posted to the Official blog. The blogs of the rest of the world naturally responded with a collective, "wait--what?"


Google has, in fact, created a self-driving car--not only that, the company took it on a test drive down the coast of California, from its Mountain View campus to its office in Santa Monica. Then, naturally, they cruised the thing down Hollywood Boulevard. Word is that the car really wanted to check out the selection at Amoeba Records.


And this isn't the first time Google has taken the car out into the wild. Past exertions have included Lombard Street (the world famous "crookedest street"), the Golden Gate, the Pacific Coast Highway, and the circumference of Lake Tahoe. The car has driven some 140,000 miles--with trained operators on-board, naturally.


The goal of the vehicle is "to help prevent traffic accidents, free up people's time and reduce carbon emissions by fundamentally changing car use," according to the company. The cars (yes, cars plural) utilize video cameras, radar sensors, and lasers (that's how you know it's from the future) to spot other traffic. Built-in maps, meanwhile, help the vehicles navigate the road.


The car is in constant contact with Google's data centers, which process all of the information gathered by the vehicles.


In all, Google seems confident of the potential of its crazy future car, "We're also confident that self-driving cars will transform car sharing, significantly reducing car usage, as well as help create the new 'highway trains of tomorrow.' " Anyone else think that this is beginning to sound like an exhibit from the 1964 World's Fair?

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