Test driving Google’s driverless car
After taking a test drive in the car, Reuters automotive reporter Paul Ingrassia noted the test drive was a most mundane experience – and that was a good thing.
“Most automotive test drives are altogether different,” Ingrassia wrote. “There’s a high-horsepower car. A high-testosterone automotive engineer. And a high-speed race around a test track by a boy-racer journalist eager to prove that, with just a few more breaks, he really could have been, you know, a NASCAR driver.”
But the Google test drive was notable for its lack of notability. The car was reported to have glided around curves without lurching or jolting. “The most remarkable thing about the drive was that it was utterly unremarkable.”
Driverless car not designed for a sporty ride
Ingrassia noted that, while the Google driverless car was not designed for a sporty ride, it was designed to exceed the speed limit by 10 miles per hour because, at times, going slower than the surrounding traffic can itself be a safety hazard.
“Thousands and thousands of people are killed in car accidents every year,” Dmitri Dolgov, 36, Google’s lead software engineer on the project told Reuters. “This could change that,” he said, describing the goal of the car.
Dolgov, a Russian-born programmer who is now a US citizen, revealed his car of choice: a rather mundane Subaru. In the Reuters interview, Dolgov was noted for not mentioning the words “performance,” “horsepower,” or “zero-to-60,” which is literally standard operating procedures for most test drives. Dolgov instead focused on terms not associated with traditional car roll-outs, repeatedly invoking “autonomy” when describing how the car drives by itself.
Google to build the perfect technology and let the business model fall in place
Google wasn’t discussing the business plan for the car in the interview, but rather indicated the mission was to build the perfect technology and a business model will fall into place.
The United Kingdom will allow driverless cars on public roads in 2015 and Google has said it plans to start building its own self-driving cars. They first announced their driverless car division in 2010 and have been testing the technology since then.
Dolgov has been chipping in on the testing. Before the interview he rode in a driverless car from San Francisco to Lake Tahoe for the weekend without incident.