October 12, 2010
Last March, Derek Sine and I came across an unmarked Google Prius while exploring the Google Campus. At the time I thought it was a new Google Street View camera. So I submitted the photos to a few tech blogs and posted a blog post here. But it turns out five months later it was Google's Automated Prius. Only if I knew that in March and apparently Google has quietly (at least until now) built up a small fleet of 7 Toyota Prius passenger cars and modified them to drive without the aid of human beings, but there will always be a human as shown in the video. Google engineer Sebastian Thrun, who is heading up the automated vehicle project, says, “Our automated cars, manned by trained operators, just drove from our Mountain View campus to our Santa Monica office and on to Hollywood Boulevard. They’ve driven down Lombard Street, crossed the Golden Gate bridge, navigated the Pacific Coast Highway, and even made it all the way around Lake Tahoe. All in all, our self-driving cars have logged over 140,000 miles. We think this is a first in robotics research.” Check out the video to see the car in action!