Google screws around with a lot of far out, even cockamamie projects -- well, because it can and it's fun. Two good reasons that few can fault.
And it's also a good way to push the proverbial tech envelope. So it is that Google's update about the company's self-driving car project suggests this is turning into something more than Sergey & Larry's homebrew experiment.
Our vehicles, of which about a dozen are on the road at any given time, have now completed more than 300,000 miles of testing. They've covered a wide range of traffic conditions, and there hasn't been a single accident under computer control.
Though Google said it was "encouraged by this progress," the company also cautioned that "there's still a long road ahead" (pun intended, apparently). The next big challenge: snow-covered roadways, interpreting temporary construction signals, and an ability to "handle other tricky situations that many drivers encounter."
As a next step, members of the self-driving car team will soon start using the cars solo (rather than in pairs), for things like commuting to work. This is an important milestone, as it brings this technology one step closer to every commuter. One day we hope this capability will enable people to be more productive in their cars. For now, our team members will remain in the driver's seats and will take back control if needed. Miles to go, though, before we learn when this technology might become ready for prime time for the rest of the driving public or whether Google intends to license it out.