The Trick That Makes Google’s Self-Driving Cars Work

www.theatlantic.com MAY 15 2014, 12:26 PM ET

A snapshot of how a Google car sees the world around it. (Alexis Madrigal)
A snapshot of how a Google car sees the world around it. (Alexis Madrigal)

Google’s self-driving cars can tour you around the streets of Mountain View, California.

I know this. I rode in one this week. I saw the car’s human operator take his hands from the wheel and the computer assume control. “Autodriving,” said a woman’s voice, and just like that, the car was operating autonomously, changing lanes, obeying traffic lights, monitoring cyclists and pedestrians, making lefts. Even the way the car accelerated out of turns felt right.

It works so well that it is, as The New York Times‘ John Markoff put it, “boring.” The implications, however, are breathtaking.

Perfect, or near-perfect, robotic drivers could cut traffic accidents, expand the carrying capacity of the nation’s road infrastructure, and free up commuters to stare at their phones, presumably using Google’s many services.

But there’s a catch.   click to read more

 

 

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