Baby, You Can

Have roads ever been so dangerous as they became when the Massachusetts texting ban went into effect on 9/30? Now, texters must hide their phones to avoid a ticket, meaning the phones are lowered, as are the eyes. But a cure to the great texting crisis is on the horizon, and it's coming from Google.

The project is the brainchild of Sebastian Thrun, the 43-year-old director of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, a Google engineer and the co-inventor of the Street View mapping service.

Thrun's goal? To remove the barriers that make texting dangerous.

“Can we text twice as much while driving, without the guilt?” Dr. Thrun said in a recent talk. “Yes, we can, if only cars will drive themselves.”

Finally, the motivation exists to develop an auto-car - the need to use your eyes for more important things than looking at the road! Google has developed a self driving car, and they've driven it - well, it's driven them - 1,000 miles.

The car then drove in city traffic through Mountain View, stopping for lights and stop signs, as well as making announcements like “approaching a crosswalk” (to warn the human at the wheel) or “turn ahead” in a pleasant female voice. This same pleasant voice would, engineers said, alert the driver if a master control system detected anything amiss with the various sensors.

The car can be programmed for different driving personalities — from cautious, in which it is more likely to yield to another car, to aggressive, where it is more likely to go first.

It will need to have a 'Boston Driver' setting so we don't need to pay any attention to cars that are actually stopping at stop signs. Of course, if the cars are computer controlled, why would they need things like signs and signals? Cars on conflicting routes can simply time things electronically, no?

It drove at the speed limit, which it knew because the limit for every road is included in its database, and left the freeway several exits later.

The speed limit? Perhaps I could deal with being in a car that was going the speed limit if it meant that I could be reading the news on my laptop while riding into the radio station at 3:30 in the morning. Maybe.