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Google tests out a car that drives itself

October 12, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Can robots drive better than humans? In early testing of robot-controlled cars, the non-human drivers seem to be passing the test.Technology giant Google Inc. is road-testing cars that can drive, stop and start without a human driver. The goal is to "help prevent traffic accidents, free up people's time and reduce carbon emissions" through ride sharing and "the new 'highway trains of tomorrow,"' project leader Sebastian Thrun wrote in Google's corporate blog.

The Mountain View company has tested seven robot cars without a human touching the controls. The cars are never unmanned. A backup driver is always behind the wheel to monitor the software.

The vehicles use video cameras, radar sensors and lasers to detect other cars. The cars know speed limits, traffic patterns and road maps.

The cars have traveled between Southern and Northern California and have navigated Hollywood Boulevard, San Francisco's curvy Lombard Street, and the cliff-hugging Pacific Coast Highway.

Google says the goal is to help prevent traffic accidents, free up people's time and reduce carbon emissions.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.


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