Google, the internet giant, has just pulled off another first and managed to get a licence to road test its new prototype driverless car on the road without a human being aboard. Although at the moment the car is only licensed to drive in Nevada - where, lets face it, there isn't much to hit for many miles apart from the odd Roadrunner (meep meep) - this is still a very significant first.
This car has already been tested extensively on the road, covering about 140,000 miles to date, but has always had to have a carbon lifeform in the driver's seat in case a manual override was necessary. The Toyota Prius prototype has clocked up one accident already when it was rear-ended by another driver, but this was attributed to human error on the part of the other driver, can't fault the robot on this occasion.
This experiment is significant for motorcyclists, as it remains to be seen whether the roads will be safer for motorcyclists with the sensors of the driverless cars looking out for them, or just the instincts and eyes of obsolete old human drivers. The prototype car, uses artificial intelligence software which reads information from Google Street View and input from sensors on the front, the roof and inside the car to read the route and provided data about other road users. So lets hope that motorcycles will feature large in its little compound eyes and it will be a good thing for rider safety.
Presumably its designers will make sure that it never makes friends with Herbie, or watches 'The Italian Job' .....
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