Friday, June 10, 2011 | Categories: Episodes
Part Two of The Current
Google & Autonomous Cars - Sebastian Thrun
Science fiction films from the 1930's imagined life in this century would include fashionable tunics with high collars, soldiers hurling sleeping gas grenades at their enemies, and sexy humanoid robots cruising the transatlantic tunnel in self-propelled cars. We're still waiting for the collars, the sleepy grenades, the tunnel and the sexy robots. But the self-propelled cars?
Google has a fleet of self propelled cars ready for the hot streets of Nevada. We heard from Sebastian Thrun. He is one of the robotics masterminds behind what is arguably Google's most avant-garde technology.
Google is testing and test-driving an autonomous car... a car where a computer does the driving, and people are along for the ride. Sebastian Thrun calls it the perfect driving mechanism. But besides the cool-factor, Sebastian Thrun says there are compelling reasons to embrace the new technology.
Sebastian Thrun is a Google Fellow researching driverless cars. He also co-developed Google's Street View, and is director of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.
Google & Autonomous Cars - Scott Hammond
Google hasn't said why it pursued the state of Nevada to test its driverless cars.
But if you didn't want to get bogged down with a lot of regulation, maybe you would pick a state famous for quickie marriages and divorces, legal brothels and of course, Las Vegas.
This week, Nevada passed two bills into law making it easier for Google to test its autonomous cars. Scott Hammond is a Nevada Assemblyman who supported the bills. He was in Fairbanks, Alaska.
Google & Autonomous Cars - John Leonard
Google researchers imagine a time when we'll use our cellphones to summon a driverless car. This is catastrophic for cab drivers of course. But you don't have to be Michael Crichton to imagine driverless cars might pose unintended consequences for other people as well.
John Leonard is a professor of Mechanical and Ocean Engineering at MIT, and a member of the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab. He's also co-Director of the Ford-MIT Alliance. He does research on autonomous robots and vehicles. He was in Boston, at MIT.
Other segments from today's show: