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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I suspect that they will also be ‘riderless’.

faraway on May 28, 2014 at 7:23 PM

It looks soooo cute.

But I ain’t getting in one though.

coolrepublica on May 28, 2014 at 7:23 PM

Lolz!!!

Bmore on May 28, 2014 at 7:24 PM

They could have at least put in a fake plastic taxi driver like in Total Recall

portlandon on May 28, 2014 at 7:24 PM

Minivans never looked so sexy. Until now.

Christien on May 28, 2014 at 7:24 PM

Gayest looking car ever

Scottie on May 28, 2014 at 7:24 PM

I HATE driving!

Please driverless cars come quickly!

terryannonline on May 28, 2014 at 7:25 PM

The most obvious application? Taxi cabs.

Google wants to take jobs away from illegal aliens?

faraway on May 28, 2014 at 7:27 PM

It looks soooo cute.

coolrepublica on May 28, 2014 at 7:23 PM

Are you high?

bazil9 on May 28, 2014 at 7:28 PM

Allahpundit is a great writer.

bluegill on May 28, 2014 at 7:29 PM

No sweat. Most cars in Colorado will become ‘driverless’, soon.

vnvet on May 28, 2014 at 7:29 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

I’m sad, I’m nationwide!

(sorry ZZ)

Christien on May 28, 2014 at 7:30 PM

You will never catch me in one of these or anything like it. You will also not see me using google to search for anything.

In fact, I avoid anything associated with google like the plague, and I absolutely HATE clicking a link here or anywhere else and seeing it bounce through a million google analytics sites. Hate it, hate it, hate it, and HATE GOOGLE.

Diluculo on May 28, 2014 at 7:31 PM

The good news is that the lawsuits from running over children will force Google into bankruptcy.

faraway on May 28, 2014 at 7:31 PM

If you look real close, you can see the Little Tikes, Playskool, & FisherPrice logos on the car.

portlandon on May 28, 2014 at 7:31 PM

Great headline.

DanMan on May 28, 2014 at 7:32 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. Never, my friends, has the term “beta-testing” seemed so apt.

So when are you getting one, Allahpundit?

I keed, I keed.

rbj on May 28, 2014 at 7:32 PM

@potlandon – Johnny Cab!

Buck Farky on May 28, 2014 at 7:33 PM

Would this be considered a drone?

Can you arm it?

faraway on May 28, 2014 at 7:33 PM

For the record, I absolutely can’t hardly wait for this technology to arrive and be readily accessible. Removing almost all chores and variables from most drivers will allow me to enjoy my cars even more.
 
Hopefully there will also be some sort of group auto-start function where they all begin moving safely at the same instant in traffic jams and then slowly accelerating up to speed. Consider that for a moment: jackrabbiting up and then slamming on the brakes because the car ahead of you isn’t going as fast as you expected after you looked up for a moment from your cell phone then triggers a chain reaction of people braking a half mile behind you. The sooner we can get those people to become riders watching movies and not drivers watching movies the better.
 
Hurry up, google.

rogerb on May 28, 2014 at 7:33 PM

No brakes, no steering wheel,…”

As Rush said today….

The Obama administration…

Electrongod on May 28, 2014 at 7:34 PM

They should make one that looks like a shark.

vlad martel on May 28, 2014 at 7:35 PM

Add an autopilot and it would be perfect.

Dolce Far Niente on May 28, 2014 at 7:36 PM

These ladies will love it: Yeah, baby.

They’ll just have to ride on the top.

SteveMG on May 28, 2014 at 7:36 PM

No brakes, no steering wheel,…”

As Rush said today….

The Obama administration…

Electrongod on May 28, 2014 at 7:34 PM

haha, an ObamaCar

faraway on May 28, 2014 at 7:36 PM

They should make one that looks like a shark.

vlad martel on May 28, 2014 at 7:35 PM

Sharks are scary…..

What are you trying to do??

Upset Utopia?

Electrongod on May 28, 2014 at 7:36 PM

Consider that for a moment: jackrabbiting up and then slamming on the brakes because the car ahead of you isn’t going as fast as you expected after you looked up for a moment from your cell phone then triggers a chain reaction of people braking a half mile behind you. The sooner we can get those people to become riders watching movies and not drivers watching movies the better.

You know, it’s totally true. People are too stupid to drive cars now.

vlad martel on May 28, 2014 at 7:37 PM

Hell will freeze over before the Taxi cab unions allow these in in their cities.

Nessuno on May 28, 2014 at 7:37 PM

The girls would turn the color of an avocado, when he rolled down the street in his Eldorado…

…uh, nope.

Look, okay, it’s not a crumpet collector, as the Brits used to say.

But at least if you do manage to find one, you can get right down to business without having to worry about driving.

In fact, that’s about the first thing I’d want to do in one.

JEM on May 28, 2014 at 7:37 PM

This car tell’s me that Google’s idea of the future is straight from

Sleeper

Now Google could be working on the Orgasmatron and the

robots and the giant vegetables and we got ourselves the Sleeper movie . lol

coolrepublica on May 28, 2014 at 7:37 PM

ON NOW:

May 28, 2014
Veterans Administration Health Care Wait List

Veterans Affairs (VA) Department officials testified about the alleged destruction of an unofficial patient waiting list associated with the Phoenix VA health care system.

LIVE NOW:

http://www.c-span.org/video/?319594-1/va-hospital-waiting-list-records

canopfor on May 28, 2014 at 7:39 PM

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

lol!!! perfect!

Sachiko on May 28, 2014 at 7:39 PM

Are you high?

bazil9 on May 28, 2014 at 7:28 PM

Do I have to be high to see that it is cute. lol

Since you are not high like me, I am guessing you will never, ever find this cute.

coolrepublica on May 28, 2014 at 7:40 PM

That thing makes the old 70′s AMC Pacer fish-bowl look cool by comparison.

Bitter Clinger on May 28, 2014 at 7:40 PM

Bishop! Still laughing at that one. ; )

Bmore on May 28, 2014 at 7:41 PM

They should test it in Vegas. And by test I mean implement it in mass immediately. The taxi drivers in Vegas a notorious for long hauling passengers, they should join the horse & buggy drivers.

batterup on May 28, 2014 at 7:42 PM

The girls would turn the color of an avocado, when he rolled down the street in his Eldorado…
 
JEM on May 28, 2014 at 7:37 PM

 
Never saw the MLs, but Jonathan and Tommy are probably the only group I keep my eyes out for.
 
(And I’m old enough to be his father.)

rogerb on May 28, 2014 at 7:43 PM

coolrepublica on May 28, 2014 at 7:40 PM

I was trying to give you an out.

bazil9 on May 28, 2014 at 7:43 PM

This car tell’s me that Google’s idea of the future is straight from

Sleeper

Now Google could be working on the Orgasmatron and the

robots and the giant vegetables and we got ourselves the Sleeper movie . lol

coolrepublica on May 28, 2014 at 7:37 PM

No way, dude:

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=_JHfSL-PoJ4

vlad martel on May 28, 2014 at 7:44 PM

From zero to zero in 60 seconds.

Christien on May 28, 2014 at 7:45 PM

If Obama had a car….

Doyle Hargrave on May 28, 2014 at 7:45 PM

This thing may well work in NYC or Chicago but that’s about it. Forget about operating it anywhere out West like LA or Dallas. 100 mile range just wont work there.

Johnnyreb on May 28, 2014 at 7:47 PM

What a piece of crap. Apparently the people that come up with these concepts never spent a winter in the Midwest.

iceman1960 on May 28, 2014 at 7:47 PM

So if someone takes the signs or cones away, basically the car is blind and will 100% get into an accident?

Ca97 on May 28, 2014 at 7:47 PM

Looks like Google used the Pelosi GTxi SS/RT Sport Edition by Congressional Motors as a model:

Must see video of the Pelosi Mobile from 2008:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rAqPMJFaEdY

Enjoy!

wren on May 28, 2014 at 7:47 PM

No way, dude:

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=_JHfSL-PoJ4

vlad martel on May 28, 2014 at 7:44 PM

I am not getting inside a cab with creepy robot head. There’s a better chance of me getting in the no break no steering car. lol

coolrepublica on May 28, 2014 at 7:47 PM

Now you, too, can be a real-life crash test dummy!

Christien on May 28, 2014 at 7:48 PM

If Obama had a car….

Doyle Hargrave on May 28, 2014 at 7:45 PM

Only if you have to plug it in.

Bitter Clinger on May 28, 2014 at 7:48 PM

coolrepublica on May 28, 2014 at 7:40 PM

I was trying to give you an out.

bazil9 on May 28, 2014 at 7:43 PM

An out for what? lol

coolrepublica on May 28, 2014 at 7:49 PM

Well, if Ray LaHood couldn’t “coerce people out of their cars and onto public transportation”, I suppose this is the next best thing from a proletarian collectivist POV.

Of course, the first time one of these L’Eggs-with-wheels gets “scrambled” by a delivery truck, Google is likely going to be facing one large-economy-sized wrongful death suit.

Like the Smart Car, the theory of “safety” with these micro-buggys overlooks the fact that they have to share the road with transport trucks. And frankly, most truck drivers will have about as much chance of seeing this thing on close approach as they do a motorcycle or bicycle.

And please note, anybody who expects “the system” to prevent such convergences doesn’t understand chaos theory. Or system load factors. Or a lot of other things, including Murphy’s Law.

The best places for these things would be golf courses, gated retirement communities, and Disney World. (In fact, they remind me a good bit of the old WEDWay People Mover system.)

On city streets, dubious.

Beyond city limits- forget it.

Which of course means we will have them mandated by the neo-Luddites at DOT within a decade.

Fair enough. But I insist on H.R. PufnStuf-style public service ads promoting them, with a chorus of wide-eyed, dedicated “Friends of the Earth” chanting,

BEETLE-CARS! BEETLE-CARS! OOPLE-DOOPLE, EEEEE-YAARRGHHH!!

I think that would put all this in the proper perspective.

clear ether

eon

eon on May 28, 2014 at 7:50 PM

More pics of these cars in different colors.

portlandon on May 28, 2014 at 7:50 PM

Hillary and Hillary: Glassholes
The New Hotness: Crasholes

Christien on May 28, 2014 at 7:50 PM

bazil9 on May 28, 2014 at 7:43 PM

An out for what? lol

coolrepublica on May 28, 2014 at 7:49 PM

Your dubious taste. :)

bazil9 on May 28, 2014 at 7:51 PM

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.

Google tech, get ready to meet your Godzilla: big city taxi companies and big city politics.

Marcola on May 28, 2014 at 7:51 PM

More pics of these cars in different colors.

portlandon on May 28, 2014 at 7:50 PM

You got me! that was funny.

coolrepublica on May 28, 2014 at 7:51 PM

So how does it do off-roading?

Mark1971 on May 28, 2014 at 7:51 PM

More pics of these cars in different colors.

portlandon on May 28, 2014 at 7:50 PM

LOL!

bazil9 on May 28, 2014 at 7:51 PM

If Obama had a car….

Doyle Hargrave on May 28, 2014 at 7:45 PM

it would be driven by a straw man.

faraway on May 28, 2014 at 7:52 PM

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.

Sterling Holobyte on May 28, 2014 at 7:52 PM

No.

ThePrez on May 28, 2014 at 7:53 PM

lol B9!!!

canopfor…I’m listening to the hearing. I don’t think I’ve been more angry.

CoffeeLover on May 28, 2014 at 7:53 PM

Move over, glazzholes…here come the crasholes.

Christien on May 28, 2014 at 7:53 PM

Maybe they can make a driverless organ harvesting van for the PLA.

Christien on May 28, 2014 at 7:54 PM

3D printing promises the death of retail. And this promises the end of another profession.

All so we can be under the power of a pseudo-government enterprise.

Sounds fun!

lorien1973 on May 28, 2014 at 7:55 PM

A driverless car would have been a problem for Ted Kennedy’s alibi

faraway on May 28, 2014 at 7:56 PM

I’d like to see all of Google “legislated out of existence”.

slickwillie2001 on May 28, 2014 at 7:56 PM

Dems: “Can driverless cars vote?”

faraway on May 28, 2014 at 7:57 PM

I would SO ride in one of those!

I don’t think there’s anything funnier than 300 pounds of fat guy pouring himself out of a car the size of a Kleenex box.

I would bring joy and laughter to every one that saw me.

Count me in!

arik1969 on May 28, 2014 at 7:57 PM

Just what America needs, it’s citizens to be even more helpless. Are we trying to out-soft the rest of the world?

Dongemaharu on May 28, 2014 at 7:58 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

portlandon May 28, 2014 at 7:50 pm
More pics of these cars in different colors.

That was the best laugh I’ve had all day, thanks!

toby11 on May 28, 2014 at 7:59 PM

What happens while the car reboots? Or runs out of cell range? Or the batteries die?

Do the brakes work? Does the accelerator go up/down?

faraway on May 28, 2014 at 8:01 PM

Your dubious taste. :)

bazil9 on May 28, 2014 at 7:51 PM

if you think my taste in car is dubious, wait till you see my taste in men. lol

This is for Bazil9′s eyes only. DO NOT CLICK if you are not bazil9. seriously. lol

coolrepublica on May 28, 2014 at 8:01 PM

Celibacy, I think not. Sooner rather than later some guy will be You-Tubed in this ugly thing with an anonymous young lady bopping up in down in his lap as they go down the road.

paulsur on May 28, 2014 at 8:02 PM

What happens if I have a medical emergency? Does it just show up at the intended destination with a dead body inside?

faraway on May 28, 2014 at 8:02 PM

Wait until it steals some gangbanger’s parking space.

Christien on May 28, 2014 at 8:02 PM

Remember the book/movie Christine…but then again this car does not have the same fear factor.

William Eaton on May 28, 2014 at 8:03 PM

What happens when the weather is less than perfect; rain, snow, freezing rain, fog?

Wanna bet they will have to be restricted to dedicated roadways? and those roadways will have to be designed and built to accommodate the AI?

Joseph OHenry on May 28, 2014 at 8:03 PM

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.

Muggers/car jackers are going to love these things. You can stop them dead with a sheet of cardboard and rob the occupant shirtless.

It is nice that they don’t move so fast and don’t allow any manual operation, so they are good targets for eggs and such. They take an egg-licking and keep on ticking, as if nothing had happened. You could totally cover one of these things with a couple of dozen eggs and have a blast. It could turn Manhattan streets into fun-town! A 24 hour carnival.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on May 28, 2014 at 8:03 PM

Paging Iowahawk. Burge, do the needful.

Christien on May 28, 2014 at 8:04 PM

If they turn these into taxis, they will probably be OK in the daylight… but on nite shift, drunks will be beating the shit outta these things… Puking in them, pissing in them, rolling them over…

I say bring ‘em on… I’d love to yell at the vodka zombies as I drive past them, “Get a Johnny-Cab, you wasted idiot…

PointnClick on May 28, 2014 at 8:07 PM

Wait until it steals some gangbanger’s parking space.

Christien on May 28, 2014 at 8:02 PM

Just don’t blink your lights at Eric Holder cruisin’ through his hood or he’ll think you’re “dissing” him.

viking01 on May 28, 2014 at 8:07 PM

Here’s a puzzler, already discussed other places….

So there’s a bad road accident and driverless cars plunge towards each other. Do the cars think collectively together that one car has two people and the other has one so the car with one person jackknifes into the other car, saving the two people but killing the single occupant?

itsspideyman on May 28, 2014 at 8:08 PM

Move over, Cash Cab. Here comes Crash Cab.

Christien on May 28, 2014 at 8:11 PM

I keep expecting Mario and Luigi to jump up and smash that sucker…

Doc Holliday on May 28, 2014 at 8:15 PM

Paging Iowahawk. Burge, do the needful.

Christien on May 28, 2014 at 8:04 PM

David pretty much covered this absurd type of millennial/Obama mobile in this prescient video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rAqPMJFaEdY

Dr. Carlo Lombardi on May 28, 2014 at 8:18 PM

And, let’s take this to the next logical step… remember Minority Report? Will Google or law enforcement have the ability to redirect the car, perhaps taking the occupant to the police station? Will there be cameras in them? Seems reasonable… I have cameras in my car. So will they be collecting biometric data, trip history, what bars you go to, what stores you shop at, etc…? Google does love datamining…

Will the camera also record audio? What if you fire up a joint in one? Have sex in one? Who has access to the video?

I have dozens of questions…

PointnClick on May 28, 2014 at 8:22 PM

How about when the darn GPS directs it to go in the wrong direction, off the road, or down the boat ramp….like thats never happened.///

Bakokitty on May 28, 2014 at 8:28 PM

The most obvious application? Taxi cabs.

Driverless taxi heading down avenue suddenly has to deal with non-computer controlled bicycle with the common urban occurrence of bike rider darting out in front of it. Likely result — either:

A.) Surviving family of bicyclist now owns Google, or

B.) Cramped passengers in cab who’ve just had their knees crushed into the dashboard from decelerating from 25 to 0 mph in a fraction of a second are now at least partners with Sergey and Larry in ownership of Google.

jon1979 on May 28, 2014 at 8:31 PM

I thought the Segway was supposed to make all cars obsolete and irrelevant, anyway. What the heck happened to that? I remember when they first introduced the Segway, it was going to radically alter all of society and change everything we know about the world. I’m still waiting for that …

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on May 28, 2014 at 8:33 PM

Laughing so hard… Love the headline, AP!

4Grace on May 28, 2014 at 8:35 PM

Will the camera also record audio? What if you fire up a joint in one? Have sex in one? Who has access to the video?

I have dozens of questions…

PointnClick on May 28, 2014 at 8:22 PM

Choom all you want- no problem. They like choomin’, remember?

Sex? As long as it’s two guys doing it, they’ll celebrate it, for reasons too obvious to (risk getting caught in the filters) here.

Now, if they catch you perusing the Weekly Standard instead of the Utne Reader, your a$$ is grass.

clear ether

eon

eon on May 28, 2014 at 8:37 PM

Try it in Manhattan or Brooklyn and it’ll be Escape from New York and Road Warrior combined.

viking01 on May 28, 2014 at 8:38 PM

Coming soon to your Google self-driving car: the self-driving car malware which will turn your Google self-driving car into the Google oversized paperweight.

Sadly, I don’t think Google considered malware threats.

Kingfisher on May 28, 2014 at 8:40 PM

Never saw the MLs, but Jonathan and Tommy are probably the only group I keep my eyes out for.

Lets rock, rock rock nonstop tonight
At the Government Center
Make the secretaries feel better
While they put the stamps on the letters

I’ve got my 8yo daughter singing along to the Dollyrots, but I’m not too interested yet in having her really understand the lyrics to ‘New College’…

JEM on May 28, 2014 at 8:42 PM

It’s a JohnnyCab.

trigon on May 28, 2014 at 8:42 PM

C’mon. This is pretty cool, even if the form factor is fugly. Isn’t the form likely to change though if it’s just a passenger box?

Home bound seniors are going to wear a rut to Walmart in these things. And we’ve been flying on autopilot since forever. Your car can shift, park, and correct for oversteer better than you can already.

But yes, fugly.

TexasDan on May 28, 2014 at 8:43 PM

Let’s face it, only Chuck Norris has the power to make this car look cool.

Kingfisher on May 28, 2014 at 8:44 PM

Smart car?

More like a smartphone with wheels.

HopeHeFails on May 28, 2014 at 8:45 PM

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