Google takes test cars without drivers on road

WASHINGTON — Google Inc. is road-testing cars that steer, stop and start without a human driver, the company says.

The goal is to “help prevent traffic accidents, free up people’s time and reduce carbon emissions,” project leader Sebastian Thrun wrote Saturday on Google’s corporate blog.

The cars are never unmanned, Thrun wrote. He said a backup driver is always behind the wheel to monitor the software.

The cars have traveled a total of 140,000 miles on major California roads without much human intervention, according to Google’s corporate blog.

Google has sent seven test cars a total of 1,000 miles without a human touching the controls at all, the New York Times reported.

The cars know speed limits, traffic patterns and road maps, Thrun’s posting says. They use video cameras, radar sensors and lasers to detect other cars.


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