Google's Autonomous Car Drives Sans Passenger, Hides Behind Security

Cameron Aubernon
by Cameron Aubernon
google s autonomous car drives sans passenger hides behind security

Remember when Google wanted to keep its autonomous-car crash interventions under wraps? The tech giant is now keeping some of its testing private, as well, as its cars are driving around with no human aboard.

According to Forbes, onlookers at a park near Google’s Mountain View, Calif. caught sight of the company’s car sans passengers, but were ushered aside by security so as no hard evidence of testing could be posted online.

As for why the commuter pod was tooling around with no soul to keep tabs on its progress, a likely idea, according to writer Mark Rogowsky, is an autonomous taxi being used by transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft whenever the car’s owner isn’t using it. A report by Morgan Stanley cited by Rogowsky states that a car is used for only 52 minutes per day, sitting idle the rest of the time. Were a vehicle to be put into service by a TNC, it would see more road time, providing more transportation options in so doing.

Though Google isn’t in a rush to bring a product online tomorrow, automakers like General Motors, Mercedes and Tesla will press ahead with partial-autonomy tech, which could arrive as soon as 2016. Meanwhile, the main piece in the puzzle — a 360-degree laser — continues to fall in price, recently dropping from $85,000 to $7,999. Rogowsky believes another 80 percent to 90 percent price cut will come in the near-future, helping to reduce the overall cost of autonomy.

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5 of 11 comments
  • Chuck3 Chuck3 on Oct 09, 2014

    Can you sent it to the store for beer? Seriously, it would be great for stuff like that.

  • Voyager Voyager on Oct 10, 2014

    There's talk in Europe of allowing autonomous drive in the car-connected sense, primarily aimed at preventing collisions, and that Google's fully autonomous drive may well conflict with that. Some argue that Google's window of opportunity to push its autonomous drive as the leading standard is rapidly narrowing, perhaps already vanished.

  • Steve65 Steve65 on Oct 10, 2014

    Nothing like a good unsubstantiated and unsubstantiable accusation to stir up the comments section.

  • Stanczyk Stanczyk on Oct 12, 2014

    google and other 'visioners and humanity saviours from 'spookey valley' .. 'the circle' is almost complete..