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Just a day after Google was awarded a driver’s license for its self-driving car, the tech giant brought one of its autonomous Toyota Prius out to Washington D.C. in hopes to make driverless cars legal in the United States.
It appears that Google made its way to the nation’s capital in hopes to appeal to federal policymakers and to maybe convince some to take a ride in its self-driving Prius. We’ve already seen what it can do for a blind man, and Google’s main focus right now is to prove its benefits to lawmakers. For the most part, Google is confident in the technology developed in its self-driving cars, its biggest concern now is for the public to widely accept the benefits of having autonomous vehicles on the road.
But of course, the U.S. government has been officially tight-lipped on the issue of autonomous vehicles with the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology stating that it had no knowledge of Google’s plans of operating its Prius out in D.C.
A car that drives itself might seem cool — until you realize it’s probably a Toyota Prius. What if you prefer something a more upscale automated chauffeur? It seems Google feels the same way by giving a Lexus RX450h the autonomous treatment.
The vehicle was spotted testing in Southern California and seems to be sporting a different sensor than some other autonomous vehicles Google used in the past. This unit seems smaller and a little more aerodynamic.
“In the course of our work, we experiment with testing our algorithms on various vehicles to help us improve our technology,” Google told Wired, essentially saying they’re progressing to a variety of vehicles.
Who knows when autonomous vehicles start making their way into dealerships, but a bill passed last week has made California a bit more friendly to self driving cars.
Self-driving cars aren’t new, but if electric vehicles’ slow adoption rates among U.S. consumers are any measure of new technology acceptance then autonomous cars can’t be close at hand, or can they?
According to a speech given by Larry Burns, former General Motors research and development head, we can expect such technology by 2020. Unless you’ve been ignoring auto news, that sentence might seem strange. We already have cars that drive themselves, even to Taco Bell drive-through windows, courtesy of Google.
What’s the real benefit to autonomous cars? To be able to eat your Taco Bell Cheesy Gordita Crunch while it drives you to your destination of course.
In all seriousness, Google’s self-driving car just did its biggest and best promotional video yet. The autonomous Toyota Prius shuttled around Steve Mahan, a legally blind man, through a day of errands.
Google’s self-driving Prius has completed over 200,000 miles of computer-led travel and one of their favorite moments was a carefully programmed route for Steve Mahan to show off the benefits of autonomous vehicles. While this was mostly a technical experiment in Google’s eyes, we believe it opens up the rest of the world’s eyes on just how beneficial the technology could be if safety standards could be met.
Without ever touching the pedals or steering wheel, the legally blind Steve Mahan got to enjoy some Taco Bell drive-through and was able to pick up his dry cleaning, something he wouldn’t have been able to do on his own having lost 95 percent of his vision. Steve Mahan was also labeled as self-driving car user #0000000001 by Google.
According to the end of the video, it was created with the assistance of the Morgan Hill Police Department and the Santa Clara Valley Blind Center in San Jose, California.
While its a good thing for the blind, the world had better be careful. If this goes too far, steering might be considered exercise.
Check out the video of Steve Mahan driven around after the break.