Google's Self-Driving "Moonshot" Cars

Google Car Prototype
Image Courtesy Google

The Google self-driving caris an amazingly cool, mind-blowing concept. The project came out of Google X, the  Google skunkworks program, where Google engineers create "moonshots" or projects that are groundbreaking and innovative but don't have any immediate monetary potential. Robot cars certainly fit into that category. Google is willing to throw a lot of money into research on this concept, even if it doesn't go anywhere, and even if they'll never make the money back. 

So the Google self-driving car is amazing in that it is a self-driving car. This is a car that a blind person could take to work or to the grocery store. This is a car that drunk people could take home from the bar. This is a car that a commuter could take while emailing, reading or napping. It's also incredibly cute - like a harmless little ladybug. That's intentional. Nobody should get the wrong impression here. You're not stepping into a sports car. This thing drives slow and deliberately and brakes for pedestrians. 

Speculation on a Google Car World

The Google self-driving car is currently an urban commuter vehicle. That makes it an ideal replacement for owning a car. Think Car2Go, only without the driving. Combine the ease of shared cars with the fact that the shared cars can actually drive themselves to more dispersed parking spots, and you've got a potential commuter system of the future. 

But the Future Is Not Here Today

Self-driving cars are at least a decade from mass market. The current prototypes are mostly clustered around places with well-mapped roads and clear weather. The cars can't deal with snow or rain very well just yet. They're not reading for Pacific Northwest rainy season by any stretch. However, give it time, and those are problems that can be solved.