Google Tested The Safety Of Its Self-Driving Cars By Swarming Them With Bikes

That's one way to do it.

We know now that Google's self-driving cars are safer on the road than most human drivers. Most of that is due to the fact that robots aren't prone to things like distracting text messages, blinding flashes of road rage, or bad decisions after a night out. According to some estimates, fully autonomous smart cars could save over 30,000 lives a year.

About two weeks ago, Google pulled the curtains back a bit and showed us just how each car's sensor systems intake 3-D pixel data from their surroundings to determine how to most safely navigate tricky obstacles. Today, at a special demonstration in front of a small group of reporters, Google gave outsiders a little more insight into how, exactly, its fleet of Lexuses and Priuses are tested. Here's a highlight from Time technology writer Harry McCracken, who has been live-tweeting from the scene:

Of course, smart-car technology still has plenty of regulatory hurdles to clear, and they're still far too expensive for the overwhelming majority of people to afford. But from what we've seen so far, self-driving vehicles could usher in a future of accident-free roadways unburdened by dumb human impulses and willfully ignored safety laws.

Sort of.

[Image: Flickr user Ian Sane]

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  • "We know now that Google's self-driving cars are safer on the road than most human drivers." I'd like to see the numbers to back that up. It's pretty hard to compare the billion cars on the planet with a handful of automated vehicles, especially considering the bugs inherent in most software stemming from Seattle and Silicon Valley.