Google claims that its driverless cars have driven 140,000 miles in California without incident.
Well, one driverless car was hit in the rear by a car that was driven by an inattentive driver.
According to a recent article in the New York Times, Google is quietly lobbying Nevada lawmakers to allow driverless cars on Nevada roads. Until now, states such as California have permitted “driverless” cars on their roads as long as a driver is seated in the driver’s seat; they treat the car and driver as though a standard cruise control were engaged.
I think that the Google driverless cars are based upon a stock Toyota Prius, to which sensors at all four corners as well as a rooftop rotating laser scanning range finder are mounted. You can find on-board tests on youtube.com. An autoguide.com article offers a little more detail on the cars.
At least in Florida, it’s hard to imagine that these cars could be driven worse than many of the cars that are now on the road. My friends in the auto repair sector will be happy, as such cars will be so complex that they’ll need even more maintenance than today’s over-complex cars.
Is this life imitating art?
The poster is from a Soviet movie that was based upon a 1921 (Czech) Karel Capek play titled R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots). It’s not an especially good play, but as far as I know it introduced the word robot to our language. (If you want to see an early film masterpiece with the theme of man vs machine, watch Fritz Lang’s silent film Metropolis, that was released in Germany in 1927. It’s been hacked and butchered to the point that Lang claimed that the film that he created no longer existed, but in my opinion the best version is Giorgio Moroder’s 1984 colorized version with soundtrack by Adam Ant et al. We’ll discuss this another time.)