What do Minority Report and Total Recall fans, Google staff and most cell phone owners have in common? They dream of self-driving cars. Well, Google isn’t only dreaming, it’s doing something about it. The Google engineers have been developing a fleet of automated modified Toyota Prius which have already driven over 140,000 road miles in California, under human supervision of course.
Pinch yourself, glance at the calendar, this isn’t April 1st. Google is into cars, didn’t you know? Well, all right, I didn’t either. So obviously they have the whole world talking furiously about them – which is what they like – and debating whether this is a crazy initiative or a stroke of genius. I err on the side of genius. Everything else they do has a touch of it already. But it’s refreshing and quite interesting to see the web giant go after more than the revenue of AdSense ads.
The idea is to equip the car with multiple sensors, radars, video cameras, an inertial motion sensor, a GPS, and then couple the package with Google Maps (seriously!) and the huge processing power of Google Data Centers to decode the car’s position within its environment and direct it in real time. More details in a NYT article.
The goals? Multiple obviously, but as ambitious as with any other Google Project. Want an example? There are an estimated 1.2 million yearly deaths on the road worldwide. The fine folks at Google think their technology has the potential to cut that number in half. One minute of silence. That would be half a million lives saved. Wow.
And what will those survivors be doing with their renewed life expectancy? Well of course they’ll be driven around by the Google Car* while spending their time talking on their Google Phone or Googling stuff on a Google Pad*. All of the above efficiently served with Google Ads. So what Go(ogl)es around, comes around!
Now one important question remains: what are they going to call the Google Car? So far those are small and rounded, probably not the fastest nor sportiest models on the road, kind of silly and not so cute… I vote for the "Google Poodle".
* These haven’t officially been marketed yet. Google, are you listening?