Would You Like to be Driven by a Google Car?
The DARPA competition was started in 2004 to help drive technological advances in self-driving cars. It asks entrants to design cars that can complete the course unaided by human helpers. None of the entrants in the first competition managed to complete the course, with the best competitor managing 12km unaided.
Things have come a long way since then, and some heavy hitters have become major players in the market. Nowhere is this more evident than in Google's attempts at building a self driving car.
The search engine giant has recently published a video on YouTube showing Steve Mahan, a blind man from California, being taken for a ride in a self driven Toyota Prius.
The video was released to celebrate the safe completion of 200,000 miles by their self-driven construction. The car navigates using radar and lasers to ensure that the road ahead is clear.
Mr Mahan was taken on a drive around his neighborhood, including stopping at the local Taco Bell drive through for a take away before stopping off at his dry cleaners to pick up a suit.
"Ninety-five percent of my vision is gone, I'm well past legally blind," Mahan says in the video. "Where this would change my life is to give me the independence and flexibility to go the places I both want to go and need to go, when I need to do those things."
As well as a nice PR stunt, the drive was also a good test of its core research. Google carefully programmed the route and wanted to see how successful the vehicle was in maneuvering it.
"We organized this test as a technical experiment, but we think it's also a promising look at what autonomous technology may one day deliver if rigorous technology and safety standards can be met," Google wrote in a Google+ post Wednesday.
The Web giant announced its self-driving car project back in 2010 with the goal to "make driving safer, more enjoyable and more efficient." But don't get too excited about the prospect of owning one of Google's self-driving cars anytime soon — the search giant said it still has a lot of design and testing to do before the technology is ready.
Earlier this year Nevada become the first US state to approve self-drive cars, which is a major hurdle overcome in the process of self driven vehicles becoming mainstream.
Would you buy a self-driven car?