Google is knowing for its revolutionary concepts that changes the world, name it Google Search, Google Docs, Google Mail, Android and lots more, this is really something amazing Google has shown, all the tachees were busy discussing about the threats of a self-driving car, but this model is really working smoothly and safely. There is no doubt that this will qualify all the hurdles and tests as Google is after it.
There are so many places that this driverless car can be put to service that it might consume a few years full production (wheneever it goes for mass production). So Google really does not have to worry about its deployment on the public roads.
There are other avenues aplenty - The School, college and university campuses, the hospitals, the airports, the big factories internal shuttles and so on.
The concept will get automaticall porven and the fear of the machine will also go away with such an implementation.
This looks great, but I think it will be a long time before a totally autonomous car is allowed on general public roads.
Private roads or a controlled set of public roads, however, are another matter.
I could see this being used in a closed community or small towns (retirement community? large college campuses?) to allow people easy ways to get around. Also, as AZskibum mentions, you could use them for getting from airline terminals to your parked car (taking you straight to your car rather than waiting for a bus that has to drive throughout the large parking lot).
I've heard of cities working on personal transport vehicles on private roads. With this you could use public roads and save a lot on construction costs.
DARPA had a number of self-driving car competitions over the past 9 or so years that started out with cars going very slow on straight roads, and yet still driving off the road, and progressing to cars driving relatively fast across complex terrain. All kinds of very expensive technology was used by the various participants. Stanford had a team that won one of the more recent competitions. There were a lot of participants, and therefore a lot of losers.
A lot of the technology that went to Google came from people who worked on the winning cars. It is all too easy to say "Why are you using this technology, why not that?" It is a lot harder to actually build a car and have it compete successfully.
There may be more competitions in the future. DesertData, if you have some good ideas, build something and try it out.
@Bert, the washing-machine-gone-wild scene in movies?! Ha, ha, I would love to see those!
Seriously, I see your point. We may no longer fear of riding on no-driver trains...
But here's the thing. Although Kris mentioned that we don't fear airplanes flying on auto pilot, airplanes do still have pilots on them. And we do have a lot of respect for those humans who seem to understand how to drive such a complex machine.
I don't think we are over that deep-seated fear yet.
"Carmakers should never underestimate our fear for machines."
They should also not underestimate the thirst for knowledge of hackers and car hot rodders. I'm not sure "hot rodder" is the right term, but it's the same people. My prediction is that we're only a few years, at most, away from "self-driving" kits being sold in the back of car magazines. "Not for street use", of course.
I'm guessing it's these hot rodders and hackers that will lead the way.
I agree Bert...it takes a while but people adjust quickly...I ride no driver subway train in Vancouver frequently and thousands of people do not pay any attention to missing driver...planes fly on auto-pilot etc
My first thought was the automated trains you ride from terminal to terminal at some airports, but without the restriction of riding rails to & from specific destinations. Google's new autonomous car looks more like a new form of public transportation -- and similarly priced too, I suspect.
@Bert, I love your description of self-drivin car as "a transportation pod"! That's brilliant! While the term might lack the sex appeal in a marketing sense, that, in a nutshell, accurately describes the message Google was trying to covey in that promo video.
Mostly, Junko, people might "fear" machines they aren't used to. I doubt too many people still fear, oh you know, their washing machines. Even if occasionally you see the washing-machine-gone-wild scene in movies.
I don't think too many people fear the self-driving trains in airports anymore. Heck, we've seen that humanly driven trains have a way of running off the tracks just because the operator zoned out for no apparent reason. Several times, in recent memory, in fact.
The other thing is, remember the hype about Segways?