The video: Google showed off its cutting-edge, self-driving cars to a select group of attendees and journalists at this weekend's Technology Entertainment Design conference, which unites many of the world's leading innovators. On a closed course in Long Beach, Calif., the driver-less vehicles, which Google has been developing for years, speedily maneuvered around traffic cones, occasionally screeching as they made tight turns. (See the video below.) Google hopes the cars' reliability — each one has traveled 140,000 miles without an accident — will eventually help to reduce the 37,000 road deaths in the United States each year.
The reaction: "We need them, and people want them," says Sebastien Thrun, the project's chief engineer, as quoted by CBS News. Many "people who can't drive today, like blind people or aging people, should be able to drive," and with these cars, they could. But don't hold your breath, says Aaron Saenz at Singularity Hub. Yes, there is "awesome engineering" on display here, but "I still haven't seen anything that lets me believe that the social and legal barriers opposing robot automobiles are falling." Watch a video of Google's self-driving cars: