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April Fools: Google's self-driving cars head for Nascar race tracks

The next logical proving ground for Google's self-driving car project is to race against Nascar drivers, except it's April Fools' Day.

Google co-founder Sergey Brin co-piloting the self-driving Google stock car racing machine

As part of its annual April Fools' pranks, Google came up with Google Racing, an almost plausible partnership with Nascar. In a post on the official Google blog, apparent racing car fan Sergey Brin wrote:

...today we're moving the project one great leap forward with Google Racing, a groundbreaking partnership with NASCAR to help self-driving vehicles compete in the world of stock car racing. We think the most important thing computers can do in the next decade is to drive cars--and that the most important thing Google Racing can do in the next decade is drive them, if possible, more quickly than anyone else. Or anything else. 

Brin, or someone at Google, writes about the joys of enabling  "one of our cars to hold its own in a field of 43 jacked-up, 800-horsepower beasts screaming down a straightaway within inches of each other at upwards of 200 miles per hour," and concludes, "I can't imagine a more exciting challenge for our team than to race our autonomous vehicles against their carbon-based competitors."

The prank includes an elaborate video with Nascar, paint schemes for the Nascar stock car and several photos, with an "I'm steering lucky!" decal on the back fender. 


While it's in the classic style of Google April Fools' pranks -- which this year includes a Google Maps 8-bit for the Nintendo Entertainment System and sending Gmail by Morse code -- it is inevitable that Google's self-driving cars go up against real drivers on a race track, just as IBM's Deep Blue supercomputer took on chess master Garry Kasparov in 1997. And guess who won that match of chess skills?