To head off any concerns of malfunctioning robots hurtling you toward imminent doom, Google has made the car look cute and cuddly from the outset.
In June 2011, the Nevada Legislature passed a law to authorize the use of autonomous cars. ... The Nevada law defines an autonomous vehicle to be "a motor vehicle that uses artificial intelligence, sensors and global positioning system coordinates to drive itself without the active intervention of a human operator." ... In May 2012, the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) issued the first license for a self-driven car to a Toyota Prius modified with Google's experimental driverless technology.
On 1 July 2012, Florida became the second state to recognize the legality of autonomous vehicles. Florida's law clarifies that, "the State does not prohibit or specifically regulate the testing or operation of autonomous … vehicles on public roads."
On 25 September 2012, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill allowing the legalization of driverless cars in the state of California which also requires the California Department of Motor Vehicles to draft regulations by 2015. In California, proposed legislation would require that "the driver would still need to sit behind the wheel in case the robotic functions of the car suddenly fail and a real driver is needed", thus limiting the benefits that autonomous cars could provide to unlicensed drivers.
In the 2013–2014 legislative session, ... Michigan introduced legislation addressing the regulation of autonomous vehicles. Governor Rick Snyder signed legislation allowing the testing of automated or self-driving vehicles on Michigan’s roads in December 2013, but requires a human in the driver seat at all time while the vehicle is in use. at all time while the vehicle is in use.
Uh, no, that's not going to happen.
But what if the car malfunctions? No, a steering wheel and brake are not going to magically materialize from the dashboard. Instead, there are redundant mechanical systems built in. The car has two sets of steering and braking systems, so if one fails the other can take over, Medford said.
Who knows how it will work in rain, or the dark, or the fog
... before sending the self-driving car on a road test, Google engineers drive along the route one or more times to gather data about the environment. When it's the autonomous vehicle's turn to drive itself, it compares the data it is acquiring to the previously recorded data, an approach that is useful to differentiate pedestrians from stationary objects like poles and mailboxes.
sfenders: “They'll be able to follow other cars almost as closely as human drivers do, without it being as insanely dangerous.”
Of course, that's 40 minutes at 50MPH... I am debating whether an 80-miute commute at 25MPH would be worth it. Even if it's quality time with family, that's a lot of time to spend in a car. Can't wait for high-speed self-driving cars.
In the first challenge in 2004, [...] Team Oshkosh's TerraMax, a 16-ton military transport truck, was programmed to be so cautious that it kept getting freaked out by desert brush and backed up continuously for half a mile before its handlers gave up.
Just  years later at the DARPA Urban Challenge, [...] TerraMax returned and demonstrated the reason for remote kill switches when it tried to take out a building.
Google's new car is perfect for me!!
What was a nearly intractable "machine vision" problem, one that would require close to human-level comprehension of streets, has become a much, much easier machine vision problem thanks to a massive, unprecedented, unthinkable amount of data collection
The car has trouble in the rain, for instance, when its lasers bounce off shiny surfaces. (The first drops call forth a small icon of a cloud onscreen and a voice warning that auto-drive will soon disengage.)
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