We first told you about Google’s self driving cars last year, and this week the company has been showing them off at the TED 2011 conference. They even let some people attending the conference go for a spin inside them.
Danny Sullivan over at Searchengineland is reporting that Sebastian Thrun, Google’s software engineer who is in charge of the project gave a short talk about the effort. He mentioned that he was first influenced to research ways in making driving safer, after an old friend was tragically killed by a car.
Videos were showed of the self driving cars on normal roads, which were impressive. They showed the cars steering round things like a deer running out in front of it, and another showed a car navigating its way round a small road as a large truck approached it.
But best was yet to come as outside in a parking lot Google gave people live demos of the cars driving themselves around. You can see the videos below, and in them the cars are going to fast but Google programmed them to do so. They wanted to show that the driverless cars can drive aggressively, and not just potter around some cones.
When the car is on normal roads it can follow a route which can be programmed via GPS, but in the parking lot it had to have the route specially programmed. At the end of the video you will notice the operator driving the car; this is because the automated route ended further back.
In years to come having this sort of technology could not only save lives, but would be really handy getting home after a night out without having to try and find a taxi.