March 23, 2015

Google’s Next Steps for the Self-Driving Car

A white Lexus SUV with a camera device on-top of the roof is driving through the streets of Norther California during its testing phase
Photo from The New York Times Blog
By Nick K.

Last month TekShouts! covered some exciting news about Google’s self-driving car. We discussed how the car is capable of driving itself by being equipped with a 3D-generated mapping system. Since we last covered the topic, the car has been heading in the right direction with all cylinders firing.

New Findings

Early this past week at the South by Southwest Conference & Festivals, (SXSW), the head of Google X, Astro Teller, provided some new updates on Google’s self-driving car. The biggest update was the announcement of the self-driving car not including a steering wheel and pedals for humans because “humans are not a reliable backup” for the car, according to Teller.

Teller feels so passionately about their Google Maps’ software capabilities that he said Google has already “mastered” the art of driving, especially when it comes to highways. This is all thanks to their countless hours spent testing on California’s highways and roaming the streets.

Why the Change?

To support Teller’s point about removing the steering wheel and pedals from the car, he recorded the human drivers’ actions while sitting in the car during the initial testing. This included when they checked their phone, looked at the surrounding environment, or even read a map. Teller bluntly stated, “People do some really stupid stuff when driving, like texting.”

There are constant distractions on the road no matter where you drive. From the car ahead of you trying to change lanes, to the clouds above, to the flickering of street light colors. Imagine what it would be like if we didn’t have to worry about any of that?  

Think the idea of completely autonomous car sounds crazy? Well it isn’t, because according to CBC news drivers’ mistakes are responsible for more than 90% of crashes. With the implementation of the self-driving car, “that should hopefully eliminate 80% of those collisions.” Less accidents means less traffic and less commute time. In addition, your driving style can be influenced by your emotions. Believe it or not, your driving style alters drastically based upon your mood.

Moving Forward

The thought of having a self-driving car might be a difficult one to accept. Thankfully, there is still plenty of time before the self-driving cars are actually in production, which is rumored to happen in 2020. In the meantime, other automotive companies have already jump-started in the race for self-driving cars, such as Audi, Mercedes Benz, Tesla, and Nissan. As for the Google self-driving car, there is still plenty of work to be done. Improvements must be made in order to “master” city driving and work out how Google can completely eliminate people, and the dangers they bring with them, from driving altogether.

What are your thoughts on Google’s self-driving car? Do you think people should be eliminated from driving all together? Please feel free to leave a comment below. 


  1. Well, it is obvious that Google is "picturing the future we are going to feature" now. It would be amazing to see this car come to fruition. Nevertheless, is it really possible to completely eliminate the human element from this new car?
    This comment and question was left in where this post was found

  2. Hey Sunday,

    Thank you for your great insights about the self-driving car. There is a very strong and real possibility that the human element can be eliminated from the driving equation. In fact, Audi has already completed their 9 day self-driving journey across the US. Here is the article link you have not already seen it.

    In addition, most cars already have the ability to park themselves into most parking spaces. I guess it was only a matter of time before cars could be able to self-drive themselves.