Whether you're thrilled about the prospects of driverless technology or not, self-driving cars are probably coming to a stoplight near you in the near future. Google thinks that they are definitely inside a decade away, and automakers like Ford have said that they think the technology will be road-ready by 2017.
Although Google isn't the only one out there working of driverless car technology, they are the most prominent. And because of that, their driverless cars steal a lot of the spotlight.
Back in May, Larry Page said that the team of testers had driven the family of driverless cars over 200,000 miles (with no incident, he made sure to specify). And today, Google announced that their fleet of cars have logged over 300,000 miles now (also without incident).
Plus, they've added a new model to the fleet - the Lexus RX450h (a hybrid, pictured above).
Here's what lies ahead for Google's driverless team:
[T]here’s still a long road ahead. To provide the best experience we can, we’ll need to master snow-covered roadways, interpret temporary construction signals and handle other tricky situations that many drivers encounter. As a next step, members of the self-driving car team will soon start using the cars solo (rather than in pairs), for things like commuting to work. This is an important milestone, as it brings this technology one step closer to every commuter. One day we hope this capability will enable people to be more productive in their cars. For now, our team members will remain in the driver’s seats and will take back control if needed.
The gears are already in motion for self-driving cars to hit the roadway as soon as the technology is deemed stable. Google's already been talking to automakers in Detroit, and have begun to get patents as well.
“It’s just an amazing, amazing experience,” he continued. “And think about — you know, I have young children. I’m sure many of you do as well. Think about your children. By the time that they’re old enough to drive, there’s no reason we can’t have technology that helps them — teaches them to drive and learn all the things they need to know. And that’s like almost, I think, the leading cause of death, actually, for kids as they learn to drive. I mean, it’s a big deal. So I think, you know, my point was that I think in technology, if we take some ambitious bets, we really have an amazing ability to transform people’s lives," said Page at the Zeitgeist 2012 event earlier this year.
Do you think that self-driving cars could change lives? Either way, it won't be too long until we see them on the road. Even as a fan of driving, that's an exciting proposition.