hiddenOct 01, 2015 20:03:08 IST
Google unveiled its prototype driverless cars this week at its Mountain View, California headquarters to delighted applause that echoed around the world. The driverless cars already have logged more than 2 million miles in six years of sometimes tedious testing on private tracks, highways and city streets located mostly near Google's headquarters.
The vehicles have travelled more than half that distance in automated mode, with one test driver in place to take control of the car if the technology fails or a potentially dangerous situation arises. Meanwhile, another driver sits in the front passenger seat typing notes about problems that need to be fixed and traffic scenarios that need to be studied.
"I don't want to compare myself to an astronaut, but it kind of feels like that sometimes," says Google test driver Ryan Espinosa while riding in an automated Lexus that recently took an Associated Press reporter on a 20-minute ride around town without requiring any human intervention.
If the technology advances as Google envisions, the only people sitting in driverless cars by 2020 will be passengers looking for an easier way to get around.
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