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Google's self-driving car goes all Dale Earnhardt

At this week's TED conference, Google programs its self-driving car to really show its paces. It looks like an exhilarating, if slightly freaky, ride.

Depending on your coefficient of control freakiness, Google's self-driving car is either extremely exciting or a novel enactment of the Nightmare on Elm Street.

So for this week's TED conference in Long Beach, Calif., Google decided to prove not only that its own technology can send a frisson into the frigid, but can also make a Prius feel like, well, at least a Mini.

In video captured by Search Engine Land, the Googlized Prius is seen racing around a rooftop parking lot, as if it was being chased by a very annoyed Javier Bardem.

This was a highly controlled attempt to show that, one day, a driverless car could compete in Nascar.

Google has been testing these cars for some time, and there is no evidence that animals or humans have been injured in the process. Each car has managed at least 140,000 miles without apparent mishap.

According to Google, the cars have meandered around Lake Tahoe, as well as taking a leisurely trip up the Pacific Coast Highway.

But the view from the inside shows just how great a level of trust one must have, as one watches the steering wheel being operated by the ghosts in the machine.

At some point, when we are passengers in planes or monorails, we give our trust to those in control, be they humans, robots, or those hybrids we call engineers.

So one can only imagine that, as with so many other deeply futuristic technologies, it is only a matter of time before we instruct our cars to do what our own miserable, distracted, or even inebriated state prevents us from doing well.

I'm looking forward to it. I think.