Google Tested a Car that Drove Itself on Hollywood Boulevard and in Santa Monica

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Not all of Google's cars were for mapping | Photo by sanchom via Flickr

Last month Google CEO Eric Schmidt hinted towards a big announcement they made Saturday: “Your car should drive itself. It just makes sense,” he said at a conference. “It’s a bug that cars were invented before computers."

And this weekend that statement became even more clear. Posted to the Official Google Blog on Saturday, Google announced that they've been testing cars that drive themselves on California roads. In all, their "self-driving cars have logged over 140,000 miles," they said.

The announcement seems hinged upon a recent road trip. "So we have developed technology for cars that can drive themselves. Our automated cars, manned by trained operators, just drove from our Mountain View campus to our Santa Monica office and on to Hollywood Boulevard. 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."

Google says the cars have never been unmanned and that this is about safety, considering 1.2 million lives worldwide are lost due to crashes every year. Apparently, the only crash a self-driven car suffered was a human error fender bender: the Google vehicle from behind at a stop light.

The technology could take eight years to hit the market commercially by some estimates. But some believe Google's goal right now is just proving it works. Still, to roll it out publicly, lots of finagling of the law will have to be done since most laws are written presuming a human was in charge of the vehicle. Who is liable if its the computer's fault?