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The future is finally here – ok, well, that statement doesn’t actually make logical sense, but Google has developed a car that DRIVES ITSELF. The unmanned car is capable of driving on public highways, not just on a closed-off race course like past videos.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the most prominent research organization in the United States Department of Defense, has been holding cash price competitions for driverless vehicles.

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The competitions included an off-road course and an urban environment. The last event was held in 2007. Since then Google has been advancing their technology that was developed through these events.

Google’s driverless Toyota Prius has 140,000 miles of drive-time on the roads between their Mountain View, Calif., headquarters and its office in Santa Monica, Calif.

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‘They’ve driven down Lombard Street, crossed the Golden Gate bridge, navigated the Pacific Coast Highway, and even made it all the way around Lake Tahoe,’ said Sebastian Thrun in a blog post on Saturday.

He continued, ‘Our automated cars use video cameras, radar sensors and a laser range finder to ‘see’ other traffic, as well as detailed maps (which we collect using manually driven vehicles) to navigate the road ahead,’ explained Google software engineer Sebastian Thrun in a blog post on Saturday. ‘This is all made possible by Google’s data centers, which can process the enormous amounts of information gathered by our cars when mapping their terrain.’

But, the car was never quite unmanned and safety was Google’s first priority. The vehicles always had a trained safety driver sitting at the wheel incase the systems malfunctioned and a software operator in the passenger seat to monitor the coding.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 1.2 million lives are lost every year in road traffic accidents. We believe our technology has the potential to cut that number, perhaps by as much as half, said Thrun.

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Google is also confident that driverless cars will promote ‘car sharing’ and reduce environmental pollution. Eventually, Google wants to use their technology to create a new ‘highway train of tomorrow.’

These specialized major roadway trains would cut energy consumption and increase the number of people that can be transported without the use of cars.

The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates the average person spends 52 minutes each work day commuting. Google wants us to imagine a future world where you can spend more time being productive through the use of their unmanned vehicles.

I hope to be retired by the time this plan comes into fruition.

Watch the CAR DRIVE ITSELF<

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