Inside Google’s Self-Driving Cars [Video]

NEW YORK | Friday, March 4th, 2011 4:58am EDT

Google gave folks a brief glimpse at its super secret self-driving cars last fall, but nothing like what it’s just showed off at the TED conference that’s happening this week in Long Beach, California.

Google Self Driving Car video 02

At the TED 2011 conference this week, Google has been giving extremely rare demos of its self-driving cars. TED attendees have even been allowed to travel inside them, on a closed course. Photo: Google

The self-driving car that Google revealed to the world last October made an appearance at TED on Thursday, with Sebastian Thrun, one of the developers of the project, speaking to the audience and then taking attendees for a test drive. Check our videos below from both inside and outside of the car courtesy of Search Engine Land.

Limitations of the vehicle currently include dealing with weather, as well as capturing the imagery and data necessary to allow the car to do things such as stop at red lights and observe speed limits (most of this work has been limited to the Bay Area for now.)

“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,” says SearchEngineLand.com’s Danny Sullivan. “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.

He continued: “The robo-car knows the route it’s supposed to follow, in this case. It needs a special route programmed, because there are no roads to follow. If it were on a regular street, typically a destination would be programmed in as with a GPS, a general route computed, and then the car would navigate. It has even driven routes from San Francisco to Los Angeles, all through automation, Google says.”

The Google’s Self-Driving Cars traveled from San Francisco to Long Beach, California last fall, for the conference as part of Google’s ongoing tests. While Thrun said he thinks we’ll see self-driving cars in the hands of consumers within our lifetimes, he notes that at this time, “It’s really just a science project, pushing the boundaries of what’s possible. It’s clearly not something that’s going to make us money any time soon.” [via Mashable and Search Engine Land]

Inside Google’s Self-Driving Car

Google’s Self-Driving Car on the Test Track

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