From JW: Green Car Congress: Google’s technology campaign for autonomous driving:
"Search engine giant Google is looking for partners within in the auto industry to help launch one of the most significant applications of artificial technology over the next several years, the self-driving car.
In a keynote address to the SAE 2012 World Congress on 25 April 2012, Anthony Levandowski, Business Lead for Google’s Self Driving Car Project provided an overview of Google’s autonomous vehicle program and requested that the auto industry partner with Google on the implementation. (Levandowski joined Google in 2007 to launch StreetView—Google Maps with Street View lets you explore places around the world through 360-degree street-level imagery.)We’re not perfect; the technology is nowhere near ready. We want to set expectations low but we want to encourage dialogue on how we want to move the technology forward.
‘For some, driving is a distraction.’ —Allen Taub, former GM VP, Global R&D
Levandowski shared that 32,788 people were killed in the US last year in auto accidents and 90% of those accidents were related to human error. Multi-tasking while driving is only increasing to the extent that people view driving as the distraction. Twenty percent of the food consumed in America is eaten in cars. Google believes that a future state with having computers drive cars can ‘remove a gigantic chunk’ of the US fatalities.
Approximately 1.5 million people/year are killed in auto accidents globally. Google is involved because the company has a strong technical legacy and the company likes to take on problems where the ‘solutions have a high impact on humanity that involve challenging technical problems’.
In addition to the safety impact, Google believes your brain should be able to engage in activities other than driving.It is a bug, not a feature, that you need to drive all of the time…What if I gave you a pill that allows you to get 10% longer life without any side effects …given how much time we spend in a car, a self driving car is that pill.
"The change in American public opinion from thinking of cars as wildly dangerous vehicles to having a 'love affair with the automobile' was no accident. Instead, it reflected a serious push by the car industry to change people's psychology. Automobiles had to win the battle for hearts and minds before they could take over streets where people had once swarmed."[Peter Norton's Fighting Traffic is well worth reading.