Google Demos Self-Driving Cars at TED Conference

Google made big news last year when the search giant announced it had developed technology for cars that can drive themselves. Google’s fleet of automated cars had successfully traversed more than 140,000 miles across California with the help of video cameras, radar sensors and a laser range finder to “see” other traffic. Mapping data from Google’s own data centers also came in handy for their tests.

At TED 2011 this week, Google gave a more detailed look at this incredible technology. In a parking lot adjacent to the conference, first-hand demos of the driverless cars were given. Among the lucky attendees that were allowed to climb aboard one of these vehicles was Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land, who was able to shoot excellent videos of the cars in action.

Interestingly, the experimental technology appears to be quite robust, and the cars are programmable to deliver varying degrees of performance. As Sullivan notes, the cars were allowed to drive very aggressively in this demonstration since it was a closed driving course:

The car is going so fast because Google specifically programmed it to do so, in this case. Normally, it wouldn’t be making all those squeals and cornering so hard. But because it’s on a closed course, Google choose to demo that it can drive aggressively, if needed. You’ll notice the operator driving it at the very end, and that’s because the automated route ends a bit further back from the loading area.

Google hopes that this technology will eventually be employed to help reduce traffic accidents. This technology could even reduce energy consumption since traffic congestion overall could also be diminished. While we’re not likely to see this technology on the road anytime soon, it does give us a glimpse of what transportation might look like in the future.

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Written by David Lux

David is a blogger, marketer, and spends copious hours devouring content concerning autos, tech, and then more autos. You can follow him on Twitter: @autocontent
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