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What Did We Learn From This Guy's Ride in Google's Self-Driving Car?
Scott Lucas | Photo: Courtesy the Verge | May 14, 2014
Actually, it was boring. That's the point.
The Verge took a spin through the South Bay in Google's latest iteration of its self-driving car, and we'll be the first to tell you—it was boring. Here are the closest things to highlights:
It's a boring luxury car, except with a big red button in the middle console: "The interior of the [Lexus] RX450h has the same leather seats and wood accents as a normal Lexus hybrid, and there are few signs that show it has been transformed. The most prominent change is a giant red button that has been installed just below the gear shift. This is the master kill switch, and pressing it disables the autonomous capabilities instantly.
It can't handle snow or rain yet: "It has never attempted to drive in snow. If it has an Achilles heel, it's rain: the falling water can confuse the vehicle's perception systems even more than it tends to affect a human driver."
They're already here: "[T]wo dozen autonomous vehicles in Google's fleet traverse these Mountain View streets daily."
Self-driving cars could be much safer: "Google says that independent experts estimate that humans are at fault in 90 percent of accidents, and they die for three big reasons: they are impaired by alcohol or another substance; they are going too fast; or they are distracted by a phone. Replace our current fleet of cars with ones that drive themselves, Google argues, and you can eliminate as many as 90 percent of traffic fatalities."
Boring car is boring on purpose: "The ideal ride is meant to bore you," [Google employee Ryan] Espinosa says.