Times of Oman
Jul 02, 2015 LAST UPDATED AT 11:57 PM GMT
Look, no hands! Test driving Google’s new driverless car
August 17, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Photo: Bloomberg file
 
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Mountain View (California): The car stopped at stop signs. It glided around curves. It didn't lurch or jolt. The most remarkable thing about the drive was that it was utterly unremarkable.

This isn't damning with faint praise. It's actually high praise for the car in question: Google's  driverless car.

Most automotive test drives (of which I've done dozens while covering the car industry for nearly 30 years) are altogether different.

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.

This test drive, in contrast, took place on the placid streets of Mountain View, the Silicon Valley town that houses Google's headquarters.

The engineers on hand weren't high-powered "car guys" but soft-spoken Alpha Geeks of the sort that have emerged as the Valley's dominant species.

And there wasn't any speeding even though, ironically, Google's engineers have determined that speeding actually is safer than going the speed limit in some circumstances.

"Thousands and thousands of people are killed in car accidents every year," said Dmitri Dolgov, the project's boyish Russian-born lead software engineer, who now is a US  citizen, describing his sense of mission. "This could change that." — Reuters 


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