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The best way to predict the future is to create it.
The collective odometer of Google’s self-driving cars has just passed 300,000 miles. The engineering team celebrated with an announcement that they now feel the car has been proven safe enough for team members to ride the car in on their daily commutes.
Google employees putting their safety where their mouths are and commuting daily could go a long way toward convincing the public that robotic cars are safe. Of course, the Mountain View, California area isn’t the most arduous of terrains on which to test road worthiness. Acknowledging this, Google engineer, Chris Urmson, writes “…we’ll need to master snow-covered roadways, interpret temporary construction signals and handle other tricky situations that many drivers encounter.”
Until now the cars have been ridden with at least two people, but Google will allow their employees to ride solo during their commutes. As usual, control of the car can be taken over if deemed necessary by the passenger.
The self-driving car, as we all know, does not have a perfect driving record. About a year ago it made the news when it rear-ended another car. As it turns out, the accident was due to human error, occurring after the driver had taken over. And even though, as far as I know, the car had never gotten into an accident without the help of human-powered steering, safety is always a concern.