One night while I was driving back to my apartment after work, something unusual happened. In the lane next to me, I saw a Prius pull up with a spinning device attached to a large roof rack, and a passenger in the front seat who appeared to be operating a laptop. As it looked very similar to what Google’s our Street View cars look like, my only thought was, “Why doesn’t that Street View car have a camera, and why is it driving at night?” I guessed that they were just testing the laser scanning system, which is used to map building facades.
Shortly after that encounter, I learned about one of those projects brewing within Google that made me giddy. In fact, it made my dream come true. We were developing self-driving cars. In case you haven’t heard about this yet, take a break from my post and read Google’s official announcement or this piece in the New York Times, which includes a brief video.
I’m incredibly excited about this project, though I understand one of the biggest challenges will probably be getting humans to accept it. The only thing I have to say regarding that challenge right now is that a lot of airline passengers would probably be freaked out if they knew how much of their journey the human pilots voluntarily hand over to the autopilot.