Google, the 17 year old giant company best known for its search engines and which most of us use daily on our smart phones, laptops and tablets, has gotten its driver’s license for its driverless cars at a younger age than its human counterparts. According to Reuters, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has issued Google a ruling that computers could be considered legal drivers of vehicles.
The ruling by the NHSA was that the computer could be considered the driver and not one of the people in the car. That ruling, followed by several announcements of production of driverless cars by automakers, means that there is about to be a major shift in getting around town or around the country.
Many high-end cars like Mercedes and Tesla have “auto pilot” driver assist features, and several domestic manufacturers are installing “lane warning” and “collision avoidance” systems as a standard feature on their cars.
This move frees Google and other car manufacturers to “move up production dates” for their models, and we could soon be seeing driverless vehicles on the freeways in the lanes beside those of us who are still hanging on to the convenience and “control” of our vehicles. Google has been testing their driverless cars on the highways and freeways of the country for several years.
Now, the rumors are that even Apple is considering and may already be testing driverless vehicles at its secret test tracks.
The implications are enormous. It is likely that we will see driverless ready mix trucks arriving “just in time” to our construction sites rather than waiting in traffic-blocking queues in the streets surrounding those sites. Already, 25 cubic yard dump trucks are being used in Australia in some mining operations with their drivers at monitors 1,000 miles away. This is truly the Age of Disruption and the 4th industrial revolution, and it holds the promise of a reduction of lanes of concrete highways and high-rise parking garages that provide 4 or 5 spaces per 1,000 square feet of office space.
We say congrats to Google on “passing the driving test” and the same to the NTSA for moving into the 21st century. Buckle up folks. As my dad used to say, “You ain’t seen nuthin’ yet.”