Video: New Google driverless car promises safety, reliability, celibacy

posted at 7:21 pm on May 28, 2014 by Allahpundit

To cleanse the palate. No brakes, no steering wheel, no chance of a woman suppressing her laughter when you roll up in this cutesy-poo Pixar-ish oversized kiddie cart. Never, my friends, has the term “beta-testing” seemed so apt.

It’s not really going to look like this, is it?

The two-seat vehicle looks a bit like the ultracompact Fiat 500 or the Mercedes-Benz Smart car if you take out the steering wheel, gas pedal, brake and gear shift. The only things the driver controls is a red “e-stop” button for panic stops and a separate start button.

The car would be summoned with a smartphone application. It would pick up a passenger and automatically drive to a destination selected on a smartphone app without any human intervention.

The current prototype has a range of 100 miles and a top speed of 25 mph, which makes it near-useless on the highway but pretty nifty for short city commutes. The most obvious application? Taxi cabs. Say bye-bye, Uber.

The researchers found that Manhattan’s 13,000 taxis made 470,000 trips a day. Their average speed was 10 to 11 m.p.h., carrying an average of 1.4 passengers per trip with an average wait time of five minutes.

In comparison, the report said, it is possible for a futuristic robot fleet of 9,000 shared automated vehicles hailed by smartphone to match that capacity with a wait time of less than one minute. Assuming a 15 percent profit, the current cost of taxi service would be about $4 per trip mile, while in contrast, it was estimated, a Manhattan-based driverless vehicle fleet would cost about 50 cents per mile.

The front is made of a “foamlike material” which, coupled with the low top speed, should ensure minimal damage if anything darts out in front before the car can detect it and stop. (Interestingly, Google’s first models of the driverless car included a steering wheel so that passengers could take over in case of an emergency. The company abandoned that idea, it told the Times, because asking someone who’s not paying attention to the road to suddenly take control while they shift mentally to emergency-ready levels of alertness produced certain unspecified results that made Google “a little nervous.”) I thought the plan with driverless cars was to have some sort of central computer brain coordinating all of them on the roads; if one computer is steering all the vehicles and calculating for maximum efficiency, it can avoid traffic jams and, more importantly, accidents. Central planning is usually a bad idea when humans try it, but a computer superbrain might improve on the aggregate output of individual autonomous actors. (Brave new world!) Maybe I’ve misunderstood but the prototype below appears to be basically autonomous. It senses things around it, including other driverless cars, but I don’t know that there’s one all-seeing eye that’s directing traffic virtually for the various cars all at once (yet).

And really, how could there be as long as driverless cars are sharing the roads with cars with human drivers? You can’t achieve perfect regimented efficiency when you’ve got unpredictable human beings in the mix mucking things up. That’s the key question: How do you integrate this model of transportation with the traditional one where people steer the vehicle themselves? Lots of people love to drive; others will insist on it simply because they don’t trust a driverless car, either because they fear it’ll be hacked or because they refuse to cede control over a dangerous practice entirely to a machine. Maybe, as time wears on and public confidence in the Google car rises, demand for carefree computerized driving will eventually drive the traditional market out of business. Or maybe, at least in some areas, it’ll be legislated out of existence. I can imagine some cities, in the name of managing traffic, eventually limiting the streets to easily coordinated driverless cars. Can’t wait for the next iteration of the debate over mandates, circa 2030.



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Yo, Shawanda, now I gots both hands free for my Uzi.

Hey, Jay-Z… now I can kick your ass without keeping my eyes on the road.

Aww shucks, Killary, if it won’t fly off a cliff what good is Arkancide now?

Patrick… now you won’t have to claim you’re headed to a congressional vote at 4 AM any more.

viking01 on May 28, 2014 at 8:48 PM

. . . . . I thought the plan with driverless cars was to have some sort of central computer brain coordinating all of them on the roads; if one computer is steering all the vehicles and calculating for maximum efficiency, it can avoid traffic jams and, more importantly, accidents. Central planning is usually a bad idea when humans try it, but a computer superbrain might improve on the aggregate output of individual autonomous actors. (Brave new world!)

Allahpundit on May 28, 2014 at 7:21 PM

.Nothing “brave” about turning control of ALL of our POV transportation over to a ‘centralized’ computer system. That’s laziness at it’s worst.

Also, you don’t think they’re going to stop at “car control”, do you?
.
Ray Kurzweil … I believe you mean well, but this is just turning us more into ‘sheeple’, which is exactly what the wrong people (Progressives) want.

listens2glenn on May 28, 2014 at 8:53 PM

Patrick… now you won’t have to claim you’re headed to a congressional vote at 4 AM any more.

viking01 on May 28, 2014 at 8:48 PM

.
. . . : )

listens2glenn on May 28, 2014 at 8:54 PM

Gayest looking car ever

Scottie on May 28, 2014 at 7:24 PM

Gay as hell-

bazil9 on May 28, 2014 at 7:30 PM

That “car” is gayer than Richard Simmons’ and RuPaul’s love child…if they had one. Although, imagine bars and clubs having a few of these available for drunks to get home in. It’ll drive ya to your home, and the seat would dump you out, and the car would return to the bar for the next one.

JetBoy on May 28, 2014 at 8:55 PM

listens2glenn on May 28, 2014 at 8:53 PM

Brave New World.

It’s a reference. wikipedia the book if you don’t want to read it.

lorien1973 on May 28, 2014 at 8:56 PM

Dems: “Can driverless cars vote?”

faraway on May 28, 2014 at 7:57 PM

.
Even better . . . . . the same computer system will PROCESS all voting !
.
The world’s dictators will be sooo jealous.

listens2glenn on May 28, 2014 at 9:00 PM

[Brave New World.]

lorien1973 on May 28, 2014 at 8:56 PM

… and Obama is the E-minus moron leading us!

viking01 on May 28, 2014 at 9:01 PM

Even better . . . . . the same computer system will PROCESS all voting !
.
The world’s dictators will be sooo jealous.

listens2glenn on May 28, 2014 at 9:00 PM

They can call it the Google Diebold.

JetBoy on May 28, 2014 at 9:03 PM

Yep. ‘Johhny Cab’. First thing to pop into my mind.

DemetriusPhalerum on May 28, 2014 at 9:07 PM

To cleanse the palate. No brakes, no steering wheel, no chance of a woman suppressing her laughter when you roll up in this cutesy-poo Pixar-ish oversized kiddie cart.

I keep reading this kind of stuff, and the engineer in me can’t take it anymore. There most certainly ARE breaks on this thing.

There are no break pedals.

I can’t get too worked up about it though, because reading this kind of stuff (from AP) always breaks me up:

Never, my friends, has the term “beta-testing” seemed so apt.

Lolo on May 28, 2014 at 9:08 PM

Yeah, misspelled “brake.”

Lolo on May 28, 2014 at 9:14 PM

I got it!! No steering wheel, no brakes, etc.

So……General Motors is going to build them????????????

crankybutt on May 28, 2014 at 9:17 PM

Prog future is tre queer.

Murphy9 on May 28, 2014 at 9:23 PM

The most obvious application? Taxi cabs. Say bye-bye, Uber.

Goole has invested millions in Uber. Uber will become driverless someday, that is Google’s goal.

Braveheart on May 28, 2014 at 9:28 PM

listens2glenn on May 28, 2014 at 8:53 PM

.
Brave New World.

It’s a reference. wikipedia the book if you don’t want to read it.

lorien1973 on May 28, 2014 at 8:56 PM

.
My naïveté is of sufficient degree, that I can say I was not familiar with the book.

So, I guess I stand corrected.

listens2glenn on May 28, 2014 at 9:32 PM

Best part is, Google and NSA will track everywhere you go.

de rigueur on May 28, 2014 at 9:34 PM

And probably what radio stations or CDs or mp3s you’re listening to. And what you’re yelling up at the 14-wheeler driving over you.

de rigueur on May 28, 2014 at 9:35 PM

Mustang GT or Happy Face Fruitmobile….man, tough choice.

Bishop on May 28, 2014 at 9:37 PM

Best. Headline. Ever.

Caiwyn on May 28, 2014 at 9:50 PM

Never, my friends, has the term “beta-testing” seemed so apt.

So you test drove it????

Sorry…..I just could not resist; you just set it up so well.

Bubba Redneck on May 28, 2014 at 9:53 PM

Yeah, I’ll pass.

John the Libertarian on May 28, 2014 at 10:07 PM

Asper trans secy Lahood, the planis to “coerce” people out of their cars. See MN’s TOD(trans oreinted dev) $ SF’s plan bay area. The overarching theme of the progressive’s utopia is the maximal denial of autonomy, considering google’s prog bent this appears to be googles contrbution to that end.

Archimedes on May 28, 2014 at 10:12 PM

Sorury re the typos, i am an incompetent texter.

Archimedes on May 28, 2014 at 10:15 PM

Who would not be paying attention to the road in a driver-led car?

PBH on May 28, 2014 at 10:21 PM

Don’t hard bicycle seats offer the same?

WryTrvllr on May 28, 2014 at 10:25 PM

Well, I’m not surprised to see it reach this point. Under certain conditions (dense urban area driving), vehicles like these are a great option. And that’s the thing: they’re designed to be largely autonomous because they’re meant to be an option, not a 100% replacement.

Once the tech is mature, I wouldn’t be surprised to see regular cars coming with “driverless options”. Would be a hell of a lot better for a drunk to punch a button saying “Home” than have him actually try to drive there.

I don’t expect to see this replace the standard automobile anytime soon, though.

Asurea on May 28, 2014 at 10:36 PM

If a human ain’t at the wheel, rudder, stick, controls or whatever the controlling mechanism is called on the moving object in question I am not stepping in it.

Remember, Neil Armstrong had to manually land the Apollo 11 Lunar Lander because the computers shut down. Without that manual override option this thing isn’t going to fly, as it were.

Bubba Redneck on May 28, 2014 at 11:00 PM

Even better it’s driven by Windows ME (The BSOD Special).

The technology is flawless. Nothing could possibly go wrong… go wrong… go wrong… go wrong.

viking01 on May 28, 2014 at 7:58 PM

That settles it! No way!!
I’m a Mac man!!

Bubba Redneck on May 28, 2014 at 11:05 PM

So no pesky steering wheel to get in the way of text messaging and constant Facebook updates!

Galtian on May 28, 2014 at 11:27 PM

I hear Toonces just endorsed the driverless car…

viking01 on May 29, 2014 at 2:06 AM

…does anyone else think that yuppie boondoggle of a car bears a striking resemblance to an oversized Fisher-Price toy with a webcam glued on top?

Even better it’s driven by Windows ME (The BSOD Special).

viking01 on May 28, 2014 at 7:58 PM

You’re kidding me. You’ve GOT to be kidding me.

98SE with the unofficial fan-patch would be more stable.

LawfulGood on May 29, 2014 at 2:09 AM

i dont care how ugly it looks as look as long as I can sleep on it on my way to work and it can park itself.

nathor on May 29, 2014 at 2:34 AM

Remember, Neil Armstrong had to manually land the Apollo 11 Lunar Lander because the computers shut down. Without that manual override option this thing isn’t going to fly, as it were.

Bubba Redneck on May 28, 2014 at 11:00 PM

Article of general interest

Shy Guy on May 29, 2014 at 3:58 AM

For a lot of elderly and handicapped people who can’t drive well or shouldn’t drive at all, this would be a godsend, at first.

On the other hand, putting grandmothers in these fragile bubbles with no capacity to “emergency drive” out of trouble on the same roads with trucks etc. is asking for slaughter.

David Blue on May 29, 2014 at 4:23 AM

it looks like a wart and drives like sputum, except you are disabled from coughing

clandestine on May 29, 2014 at 7:36 AM

Just…………….. simply…………… SUCKS.

SC.Charlie on May 29, 2014 at 7:40 AM

…imagine…a world where photo ID driver’s licenses will be obsolete…..never be able to buy beer again…no more voting….no check cashing….all kinds of delays making porn videos

clandestine on May 29, 2014 at 7:40 AM

Are we going to send them to the border, so they can pick up “dreamers”?

Oil Can on May 29, 2014 at 8:05 AM

JetBoy on May 28, 2014 at 8:55 PM

Will it clean itself out before it picks you up, after the last guy puked all over inside it?

GWB on May 29, 2014 at 8:31 AM

…imagine…a world where photo ID driver’s licenses will be obsolete…..never be able to buy beer again…no more voting….no check cashing….all kinds of delays making porn videos

clandestine on May 29, 2014 at 7:40 AM

How will this have an impact on voting? Surely you don’t mean to say we need to ID our voters?

digitalhap on May 29, 2014 at 8:39 AM

Watching the 1st video made me think of Johnny Cab.

Without Johnny.

yongoro on May 29, 2014 at 8:42 AM

I figure Obama would wear a bicycle helmet anyway, were he to drive one.

RSbrewer on May 29, 2014 at 8:51 AM

So I’m comming down off Wolf Creak Pass in my F350 towing a load of hogs, & in front of me is Pajama Boy in his LadyBug. If I rear end he-she-it, I am at fault, but if it hits my windshield, Walmart has squeegees on sale now $2.99 while supplies last

personhoodCO on May 29, 2014 at 9:06 AM

Goggle’s vision of NASCAR: Driverless little cars going in endless circles at 25 mph. The next great liberal spectator sport.

jt on May 29, 2014 at 9:16 AM

Goggle’s vision of NASCAR: Driverless little cars going in endless circles at 25 mph. The next great liberal spectator sport.

jt on May 29, 2014 at 9:16 AM

That’ll make it easier to arrange it so the right “driver” always wins.

It’ll be like modern beauty contests, where the winner isn’t necessarily the most beautiful, or even above average in looks, but the one that gives politically correct speeches that best flatter the prejudices of hard core liberal and gay judges.

David Blue on May 29, 2014 at 9:27 AM

A swarm of bugs hitting the doo-hickey on top the car will put it out of commission…

albill on May 29, 2014 at 10:01 AM

Every time I see that car I have the strange urge to don footie pajamas and drink hot cocoa. (j/k)

Kingfisher on May 29, 2014 at 10:02 AM

It would be interesting to see the reaction to these cars vis-a-vis their political leanings.

It seems to me that this might trend along whether people put their trust in government (ppl like the Google car) or whether people distrust the government (ppl don’t like the Google car).

Just a thought….

Nineball on May 29, 2014 at 10:03 AM

The proper name for this car is the Edsel II.

SC.Charlie on May 29, 2014 at 10:04 AM

Nineball on May 29, 2014

This thing is sort of like a wet dream for the NSA. Next I am waiting for everyone to have a mandatory chip implanted at birth, but of course we can’t have voter ID cards.

SC.Charlie on May 29, 2014 at 10:11 AM

It’s mass transit.. it’s not a car.

JellyToast on May 29, 2014 at 10:57 AM

This may be an option for dense areas in large urban cities, areas I avoid like Ebola. My main problem with the car as currently configured, is that it has a cartoon face.

Wallythedog on May 29, 2014 at 11:16 AM

Is that a clown car?

I will never, ever, trust a computer to drive me anywhere. Imagine if one of those suckers gets a virus.

You do understand that commercial aircraft autopilot is basically a computer driving you somewhere?

zarathustra on May 29, 2014 at 12:41 PM

Ever notice how the music in commercials and videos from companies like Google and Apple sounds both childish and smarmy at the same time? It’s like the music from an arrogant crib mobile or something.

Sets my teeth — my adult teeth — on edge.

Humph.

Lickmuffin on May 29, 2014 at 12:45 PM

The current prototype has a range of 100 miles and a top speed of 25 mph, which makes it near-useless on the highway but pretty nifty for short city commutes. The most obvious application? Taxi cabs. Say bye-bye, Uber.

A taxi cab that can’t go over 25 MPH? Yes the average might be 10-12 but average and top speed don’t really correlate that well.

Since you’re still sitting at lights or in traffic over half the time on those rides; and acceleration to 25 is likely under-performing as well, this car would average what? 3 MPH?

I’ll get a real cab, thanks. Or a horse drawn carriage… heck a bike-rickshaw could beat that “car” with a passenger. I’m betting I could walk at what the “average speed” would be if you factored in this vehicles top speed & acceleration (and still had the same stops).

If you can’t get that to 40 you won’t even have “in town transportation” in 99% of the country.

“Its as fast as walking and only $XX,XXX.XX” Not a selling point.
Yes, I suspect the price will put this in the “novelty item” category of transportation faster than you can say “Segway”.

Did those replace taxi cabs (much less cars)?
Would this get you where you’re going faster than a Segway?
How much more than a Segway will this cost?

You get this thing doing 40 and at a price lower than that of a real car (2/3rd tops, 1/2 would be a good target for higher sales; with comparable size/space/amenities); I’d look at buying one for short-haul transportation.

Anything slower than 35-40 or pricier than 1/2 the cost of a real car is going to be a joke and not a “revolutionary new” whatever.

gekkobear on May 29, 2014 at 2:12 PM

its going to be very difficult to have carnal assignations in the back seat, except for midget contortionists who are going to see a welcome huge increase in income and popularity

clandestine on May 29, 2014 at 2:21 PM

Oh, and I still want my “$5,000 compressed-air driven car” for under 5 grand. I was thinking the manufacturing would have powered the price by now (it was touted many years ago) ; but I can’t find it anywhere…

http://shanebertou.wordpress.com/2008/02/22/a-5000-car-that-runs-on-compressed-air-ill-take-two/

The car can reach top speeds between 65-70 miles per hour. It would cost an estimated $2.25 for a fill up and can travel 125 miles before needing to refill. The least expensive model will start at a about $5,000.

That was 6 years ago; why aren’t those everywhere?
And down to $3,000-$4,000 from mass-production and such?

Oh wait, that was for 2008; but it got delayed and changed a bit…

http://green.autoblog.com/2008/02/21/air-car-coming-to-america-by-2009-2010-will-cost-17-800/

the Air Car will arrive in the US by 2009 or 2010, courtesy of Zero Pollution Motors. The quirky alt-propulsion vehicle’s anticipated $17,800 price tag

But still, why aren’t those everywhere now? Although I can get a Nissan Sentra new for comparable pricing with better range…

http://zeropollutionmotors.us/

Zero Pollution Motors (ZPM) is poised to produce the first compressed air-powered car for sale in the United States by 2nd half 2015.

Ah, pushed back again, and price information not available anymore (but you can put down $1,000 and hope you might eventually get to pay whatever they charge later).

Yeah… so this will work twice as well, right?
Do they double the smoke, mirrors, or both?

gekkobear on May 29, 2014 at 2:29 PM

At least I won’t have to listen to cab drivers any more.

rhombus on May 29, 2014 at 2:30 PM

I can’t wait. I would take a job on this project in a split second. Yeah, this car looks like a chick car, maybe the next one will have some muscle.
Imagine getting driven back and forth to work, Calling your car from the parking lot, sending your car to pick up your friend. This list goes on and on. Not to mention the service for those that can not drive.
When this becomes available to the public, it will change the economy as much as the personal computer changed the economy. Sign me up!

bbordwell on May 29, 2014 at 4:08 PM

In case any Doctor Who fans are reading this, doesn’t this remind you of ATMOS?

(sorry if anyone already brought that up…)

Cheshire_Kat on May 29, 2014 at 6:14 PM

So I’m comming down off Wolf Creak Pass in my F350 towing a load of hogs, & in front of me is Pajama Boy in his LadyBug. If I rear end he-she-it, I am at fault, but if it hits my windshield, Walmart has squeegees on sale now $2.99 while supplies last

personhoodCO on May 29, 2014 at 9:06 AM

.
Or, if you’re “comming down off Wolf Creak Pass” in that ficticious truck from the C.W. McCall song.

listens2glenn on May 29, 2014 at 7:03 PM

“Wow! This is great!” says the Mom. “I can talk to my kid to see how there day went and even help him with homework.”

Yeah, this car solves the world’s problems. /sarc

The world will be better if you let the car do ALL the work and no control. Kind of like letting the government run everything.. your money, healthcare, you life…. /sarc

Yeah, these California freaks all are hearts and flowers..

I would say that computers are mostly used for repeative actions or boring tasks that require “hardly” any intervention that help humans, not full blown control.

Pilots control landing and take offs, that is not left to computers.

-west

mr_west on May 29, 2014 at 7:04 PM

Goggle’s vision of NASCAR: Driverless little cars going in endless circles at 25 mph. The next great liberal spectator sport.

jt on May 29, 2014 at 9:16 AM

.
For me, NASCAR’s been going “downhill”, ever since they ‘down-sized’ the cars for the 1981 season. The down-hill slide began slowly, but began accelerating in the late ’80s.

Today … I don’t recognize it anymore.
.
NASCAR in name only.

listens2glenn on May 30, 2014 at 9:59 AM

Why does it have a cartoon dog face?

Wallythedog on May 30, 2014 at 10:49 AM

Gay as hell-

bazil9 on May 28, 2014 at 7:30 PM

Even if it isn’t a sky blue Prius.

Freelancer on May 30, 2014 at 12:18 PM

I’m definitely skeptical about this initial iteration of driverless cars, but I’m honestly confused about the animosity I’m seeing in the comments about the concept of driverless cars in general.

Why wouldn’t you want the car to drive itself? It would literally give us back millions of man hours in productivity each year – rather than sitting behind the wheel for an hour commute every morning you could spend that time responding to emails.

If you’re worried about safety, I have to ask if you’ve ever flown – a computer flew the plane for essentially every second of the flight aside from take off and landing.

thesilentrepublican on May 30, 2014 at 3:58 PM

Wow! I bet Obama could drive that car.

esnap on May 31, 2014 at 11:01 AM

If you’re worried about safety, I have to ask if you’ve ever flown – a computer flew the plane for essentially every second of the flight aside from take off and landing, with at least two trained professionals at the controls at all times if something even seems like it could possibly be going wrong.

thesilentrepublican on May 30, 2014 at 3:58 PM

Fixed. Comparing driverless cars to planes is a hideously poor comparison.

Your vehicle does not carry hundreds of people, a dozen at most unless you’re driving a Duggarmobile.

At least two people who’ve had far more schooling than you or I did for a driver’s license are in the seats; even if one falls over dead from a heart attack there’s more than just the computer.

Even if your engine completely dies, in a car you can pull over to the side of the road. Have the same happen in a plane and if you’re not within gliding distance to an airport, kiss your bum goodbye.

LawfulGood on May 31, 2014 at 4:57 PM

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