Google ready to test 'hands off' vehicle

Source: Google/EPA
Source: Google/EPA

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hands on the wheel. Foot on the gas. Eyes on the road. Driving as we know it may take a back seat sooner than later.

Google has programmed a Toyota Prius to run on auto pilot. GPS, traffic sensors and artificial intelligence do the driving.

UH Prof. Panos Prevedouros said the driverless car is the future of automobiles.

"Google has demonstrated that the car literally can drive itself and protect other cars, pedestrians and bikers," he said.

This week, Nevada issued the first license in the U.S. to test Google's self-driving vehicles on public roads.

State House Rep. Gene Ward wants Hawaii to do the same.

"It's probably the safest and best place to test it," he said. "Instead of an HOV lane, you could have a driverless car lane, where the computers keep the speed, the integration, the outgoing and the incoming in the traffic. It could be running just like a mass transit train."

This session, twenty representatives introduced a resolution that urged the Department of Transportation to look into driverless cars. It stalled over safety concerns that Prevedouros said shouldn't be an issue.

"Normal humans have one to two seconds perception reaction," he said. "The computer is .1 second maximum. So it saves you one to two seconds immediate reaction to the danger."

Google said its technology prevents accidents, makes driving more enjoyable, and reduces carbon emissions. Prevedouros said there's another benefit.

"It would be a boon to handicapped. They can drive," he said.

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